Fresh food. Simple and seasonal. Mostly Mediterranean.
On a recent jaunt up to Portland, Maine, I finally made it to Duckfat. I'd heard raves about the place for a long time and always wanted to discover why, with all the great restaurants in that town, this one is so popular. Even at 2:30 on a chilly afternoon in December, the place was mobbed. My husband and I were handed a pager, and then told a table would likely free up in about 15 minutes. After a few bites of our late lunch at Duckfat, we understood all the fuss. We started with their famous fries, fried in duck fat, of course, and the accompanying lemon-herb dipping sauce. We also shared a "Hali Pani," a panini made with fresh halibut, cheese, and caramelized red onion. But the best tasting dish of the day was a bowl of Brussels Sprouts, sautéed in duck fat and tossed with bread crumbs, bacon, and garlic. We literally fought with our forks over every last bite in that bowl. At home, I have been determined to replicate this same dish as best I can -- both with and, dare I say, without, the restaurant's signature ingredient -- for readers, who just might not have a couple of tablespoons of duckfat on hand. The flavor is a tad different without it but still excellent. If you can't get to Portland, this recipe will give you a feel for the dish. But the better option would be to make the trek -- yes, even in the wintertime, to savor Duckfat's Brussels Sprouts and the restaurant's many other fabulous dishes. Don't wait for a beach day to enjoy this vibrant city, where the food scene just gets better and better.