Last week I was at the Union Square market and saw a farmer selling Hudson Valley Duck, it was a grey cold day and things were very slow at the market and after having a conversation with the women selling Duck I decided to buy a Duck breast, even though I had no idea how I was going to prepare it.
Walking home along Grand street I noticed a lot of the Chinese produce venders still had Persimmon’s, that’s when the light bulb went off : Duck Dumplings and Persimmon chutney! It’s a great way to take a relatively small amount of meat and make it into a substantial meal. This recipe makes 40 plus dumplings and enough chutney that you will for sure have left over (try it with grilled cheese!).
Make the chutney first and make sure you use Fuyu Persimmons, even if they are hard they are still edible and with the lemon juice and brief cooking you don’t have to sweat too much if you can’t find the perfectly ripe Persimmon.
Trim and peel 4 Fuyu Persimmons roughly chop and place in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, add 1/3 cup of Honey (I like to use Buckwheat Honey, but any local honey works fine and if you refer a lighter flavor by all means use a wildflower/clover lighter tasting honey) 2 Tablespoons of fresh Lemon Juice, 1 Tablespoon of seed, stemmed and finely chopped fresh Jalapeño and a generous Tablespoon of grated Fresh Ginger (remove all of the fibrous bits). Over medium heat bring to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat, add 1/4 Teaspoon of Almond Extract and 1/4 Cup of light toasted Sliced Almonds.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, it should have the delicate taste of persimmons with a touch of sweetness and a kick of ginger with just a little heat. Place the chutney in the fridge while you work on the dumplings.Most of the work for the dumplings can be done in a food processor, small things like chopping the fresh Tarragon and peeling and grating the ginger are the only two things that need to be done by hand. This is a good thing and makes making the filling a jiffy. The labor intensive part is filling the dumpling wrappers.
Stem 1/2 pound Shiitake Mushrooms and pulse in the food processor until finely chopped, remove and place in a medium-sized bowl. Add 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (I use Japanese Light Usukuchi any would be fine ), 2 Tablespoons of Brandy (Cognac or Armagnac) 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and 2 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil (I used Japanese which is Toasted, again any sesame oil will do) toss it all well with the mushrooms.
In the bowl of the food processor add a large duck breast removed of the fat (render the fat later and cook french fries in it). Pulse several times until the breast meat is well broken down and paste like (it does look eerily like pink slime…not to worry at this you know is actual real 100% meat).
Add the processed duck meat to the mushroom mixture and mix together with a big wooden spoon. Then stir in 2 generous Tablespoons of Grated Ginger, making sure to remove all the fibrous bits, a heaping 1/4 Cup of freshly chopped Tarragon Leaves and 1 cup of trimmed scallions finely chopped. There you have your dumpling filling. I bought the wrappers at a Chinese Grocery store, I avoid the golden ones because as far as I can tell they are the same as the white ones only with food coloring. You could make your own dough and roll it out and use a cookie cutter to make these rounds. If it was a special meal I’d say go for it, but for a quicker midweek meal, I’d go for theses guys:Get a small bowl of water ready and a Tablespoon measure. Take a wrapper in your hand and fill it with a scant Tablespoon of filling, dip your finger in the water bowl and rim the periphery of the dumpling wrapper. Fold and crimp.Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper so you can line up all your dumplings on it in ready to cook.In a large frying pan that you have a lid that will snuggly fit over it, add a Tablespoon of unflavored oil like organic Peanut, over medium high heat, when oil is hot fill the pan with the dumplings and cook for 2 or so minutes until you can see them start to brown. Splash 1/3 cup of Water over the dumplings and quickly place the lid on top and steam for 7 minutes. Remove the lid and cook off any remaining liquid.The bottoms will be crispy brown and the tops chewy and nearly transparent.
Serve with Persimmon Chutney and some soy sauce. Add a watercress salad and you have dinner.
This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe I cut out of the New York Times a long time ago, sadly no author is credited.