MEATBALLS MAGRET ET PURÉE DE CELERI-RAVE

Duck meatballs with celery-root puree
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I AM OBSESSED with my friend Molly Rundberg’s Swedish meatballs, which she serves as an appetizer with a dollop of lingonberry jam. So when I saw a great sale on magret duck breasts at Leclerc (the French hypermarket), this spin on her famous recipe leapt to mind. Made a bit larger, they work great as an elegant-but-homey main course when served over celery-root puree. The puree is reminiscent of mashed potatoes, but with a lighter texture and a slightly sweeter, more floral flavor.

For the meatballs:

  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped shallots (about 5 large shallots)
  • 2 one-pound magret duck breasts (make sure they’re magret)
  • 8 ounces ground veal
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Combine bread crumbs and milk in a large bowl; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

2. Remove the fat from duck breasts and save for another use, such as poulet frit. Cut the meat into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Pass through a meat grinder or pulse in a food processor until the meat is the texture of hamburger. Add to bowl with soaked breadcrumbs along with cooked shallots and remaining ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Transfer to a sheet pan, and place pan in the freezer to chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown meatballs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer browned meatballs to a slow cooker as they are finished.

4. Add cream to skillet, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour hot cream over meatballs in slow cooker. Cook meat balls on high for 2-3 hours, or low for 4-5 hours. Serve over celery-root puree and drizzle with the juices that form in the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired.

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For the celery-root puree:

  • 3 cups whole milk, plus more to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 large celery root, about 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch slices
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

1. Place milk, water, and salt in a large sauce pot; bring to a boil over high heat. Add celery root and potato; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Drain vegetables and place in a food processor along with butter. Drizzle in heavy cream while processor is running; process until smooth. If a looser consistency is desired, thin with a little milk. Season with more salt to taste. You may keep puree warm in a double boiler until serving, or heat right before serving in a microwave.

Serves 6

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