Just look at those fat little legs! (I opted not to sear the legs as I removed the skin after cooking)

Hand in hand with local diets and nose-to-tail eating is charcuterie, the art of making cured, smoked and processed meats. That’s a pretty simplistic definition that belies the skill that’s needed to create the pates, rilletes, terrines and sausages of animal meat. And I’m not speaking of the bland, mechanically processed pates in the supermarket deli counter, or the mass produces factory sausages in the meat case. I’m talking the mastery of these medieval techniques, originally spawned from the necessity to preserve meat, the mastery that allows the chef to take raw protein and transform it into something magical, something that delights the taste buds while paying homage to the animal.
At Charcuterie Ratinaud, Frederic Tandy is doing just that. Or so I’ve heard—the proof is in the eating. Although Ratinaud has been getting rave reviews, and the food porn Tandy shares on Twitter (@Ratinaud_Hfx) was enough to make this veteran food writer drool, I had reserved judgement–I prefer to make my own decisions.
Last week I finally made the time to head up to the shop and see for myself what the buzz was about. The spotlessly clean store front has a display case laden with temptation—sausages, cheeses, foie gras, duck prosciutto; there’s a cooler with other goodies likes savoury jams, pickled vegetables and duck fat. And there’s take out foods that serve as whole meals, along with artisan cheeses from Quebec, and bread—everything to make up a fabulous meal. I took home duck rillete, duck leg confit, beef bourgignon (in honour of Julia Child’s 100th birthday), duck fat, and onion jam.
Based on insider information, and knowing Tandy’s background (a native of Limoges, France, with extensive culinary training), I had high expectations.
Supper that night was duck legs, root vegetables roasted in duck fat, and the onion jam. The duck confit? I love it. I’m in love with it. I would marry it. The plump legs shred easily with a fork, and are heavenly; well seasoned duck flavor, just as they should be. Of course the vegetables are good—as is anything cooked in duck fat (don’t believe me? Try pommes frites that have been cooked in duck fat and prepare to be mind-blown). The onion jam has the sweet taste of caramelized onions with subtle rosemary flavor (heavy handedness with rosemary leads to food that tastes like mop-bucket solution, otherwise known as Pine Sol syndrome), and complement the duck superbly.
My expectations were more than met—they were far exceeded.
(ratinaud.ca)

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