Thoughts From

Acland St Cantina’s Black Mole of
Duck, served with Ancient Grains.

Published - 04.02.13

By Daniel Hawkins

There’s a lot that goes into the design and creation of our favourite dishes. Whether it’s a colour, flavour, or textural consideration, the process is one that chef’s spend much time labouring over. This week, we speak to Dan Hawkins of Acland St Cantina to run us through the menu’s latest success, a black mole of duck, served with ancient grains.

1. Black Mole Sauce

This black mole is based on a traditional Oaxacan recipe, which is usually prepared for celebrations or special occasions. It contains over 25 ingredients which includes three types of dried chillies from Mexico, four different spices, and locally grown tomatillos.

Another key ingredient featured in our mole is dark chocolate. The 70% cocoa mass chocolate adds a distinct bitter, sweet and rich flavour to our mole and adds to the dark colour, but this is usually caused by the use of rehydrated black bean water, dark fruits (both fresh and dried) and dark pasilla nerga chillies. We use this black mole as it compliments the flavours and oils found in the Aylesbury duck. Although complex, this recipe truly brings out the other great elements of the dish.

2. Slow Cooked Aylesbury Duck Leg

Locally Victorian grown and farmed, the organic, free range Aylesbury duck legs, which we’ve chosen to use are marinated in Pasilla chilli paste and cooked sous vide for 12 hours at 80 degrees Celsius.

Cooking the duck legs sous vide at this temperature and for this length of time will ensure the tough leg muscles and tendons become meltingly tender and come away from the bone with ease. The natural fats in the duck leg and skin will render out during the cooking process, but cooking sous vide will keep the meat from becoming dry. A quality ingredient, this Aylesbury duck produces a high flesh to bone ratio.

3. Ancient Grains

Grains, pulses and seeds have been a staple in the Mayan and Aztec diets since their existence. Because moles are usually served with beans, rice or grains, we’ve chosen to serve our mole with Farro.

A biodynamic, organically farmed product, we source ours through Mt Zero. With a combination of various nuts and seeds in our mole, the nutty taste of this farro works perfectly for the dish. We slow braise the Farro until tender and finish it with loads of fresh oregano. The grain holds a slightly chewy texture during cooking which also adds another great dimension to the dish too.

4. Pickled Red Onion Salad

This salad comprises of oregano and cumin pickled red onions with rainbow radishes and parsley to add a refreshing sweet and sour effect, along with additional texture. Considering the complexity of the mole, the acidic pickled onions are extremely refreshing and help with the richness of the duck.

5. Masa Flour Tortillas

These fresh, preservative-free masa flour tortillas are traditional with any mole. Use them however you like, I would suggest creating a taco out of them with the grains, duck, mole and salad, or alternatively, use them to mop up the last of the rich black mole.

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