Duck and plum baked pilaf

Recently, I moved in with my boyfriend, so he’s been making a lot more dinner requests lately. Now, it’s not all been pies, and the other day he suggested something with chicken and summer berries. The man has a sweet tooth.

I, however, do not. My brain just shut down at that one. Later, when I’d recovered, and pored over the resulting mental crash dump, I came out with this:

Duck and plum pilaf bake

It’s a simple one-pot bake that’s basically a lazily asianed-up pilaf.

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Duck leg goulash

This dish gives you fall-apart tender duck legs in a rich paprika gravy, but is almost entirely unhelpful in conquering the Danube valley on horseback.

Historical authenticity regardless, it’s damn tasty and with deep flavours and a brightness from the pepper, it’s well suited to the start of autumn.

Duck leg goulash

For a long time, it was easy to eat bad goulash in Britain. Not unlike “spaghetti bolognaise” or (gods help us) “chili con carne”, we took it to our national bosom and crushed it a little with the hug. All there of these often get dished up as sad, gritty orange water, and in each case trying to go back to the dish’s roots turns up something strikingly different to the popular caricature.

The Elisabeth Luard recipe owes more to spiced broth than thick stew, omitting tomatoes and forbidding flour. Her book European Peasant Cookery has a nice exploration of the origins of goulash, and a trio of Paprikas/Porkolt/Bogracsgulyas recipes to show the working. Apparently it had to do with Magyar nomads. Felicity Cloake has been deep into goulash’s origins, and returned with a wonderful, thickened but non-tomato compromise.

Personally though I do like a little tomato in the mix. Not too much, but enough to liven the colour and obviate the need for citrus. Oh, I also bunged in some duck legs and za’atar, because I can’t leave well alone.

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Giggling Squid, Brighton – offbeat Thai

When I walked past Giggling Squid, I had a funny feeling I’d been there before, half-cut, about ten years ago, with a friend and his mother. That was quite an evening, and not conducive to long-term recall. Looking at their website, I’m not so sure. It had all the feel of a funky local independent, and appears to be a funky local chain.

Fuck it. The definition of “independent” is stretched paper-thin across music, shops, restaurants, publishing, and who knows what else. And chains aren’t axiomatically evil, whatever the strong correlations. Certainly, Giggling Squid didn’t feel like sitting down to dinner with The Man.

Duck spring rolls, at Giggling Squid

What it did feel like was a good Thai restaurant with an interestingly offbeat menu. There was plenty on there I’m not used to seeing, including a decent selection of fish, some standard curries with a twist, and some fun sounding bin ends from Quaff (a local wine merchant I’ve still not managed to get to, but heard great things about).

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