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Squash and duck pizza

Liam Mogan

I love Thanksgiving for two reasons: My whole extended family makes an effort to get together, no matter how busy we are, and we have a huge feast. We take turns hosting a holiday dinner consisting of turkey, stuffing and everything else you could want.

Unfortunately, I won't make it home this year, so a family FaceTime will have to suffice. For those of you lucky enough to be with your family, this squash and duck pizza is a great appetizer to get everyone salivating before the main event.

It's fall finger food at its finest, incorporating classic ingredients like squash and kale that are at the peak of their ripeness and flavour. If you have a favourite premade dough, feel free to use that, or find a simple dough or flatbread recipe online.

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Servings: 4 (1 pizza)

Dough

250 grams pizza dough

Flour for dusting

Duck confit

4 duck legs

3 cups water

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons salt

2 Bay leaves

1 sprig thyme

3 cups ice

1 kilogram duck fat or enough to cover the duck legs

Sauce

3 cups cream

1 clove garlic

1 cup smoked cheddar, grated

1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated

For the pickled yellow raisins

½ cup yellow raisins

½ cup white wine vinegar

Pinch cumin

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Toppings

1 cup butternut squash, sliced 2-mm thick

1 cup kale

1 teaspoon (or to taste) Chili flakes

½ cup buffalo mozzarella

Method

For the duck confit, in a medium-sized pot combine the water, sugar, salt, bay leaf and thyme and place over high heat. Bring up to a boil. Once boiling, add the ice to cool the brine down. Make sure the brine is room temperature or colder. Place the duck legs into the brine and set aside for at least three hours. For best results, let the duck legs sit in the brine for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Once the legs have brined, transfer them to a new medium-sized pot. Cover them with the duck fat and cover the pot with a lid. Place the pot in the oven and set the timer for 4 hours. Once the timer goes off, remove the duck and let it sit out until the fat reaches room temperature. Pull the duck out of the fat and remove the meat from the bone (it should fall very easily). Set the meat aside until you begin to build the pizza.

For the smoked cheddar sauce, place the cream and garlic in a medium-sized sauce pot and place over low heat. Reduce the cream by half, careful to watch that it doesn’t boil over. Once the cream has reduced, remove the clove of garlic and stir in the cheese. Continue to simmer on low for another 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and transfer it to food safe container. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce, pressing around all sides to make sure no surface of the sauce comes in contact with the air. This ensures a film doesn’t develop on top of your sauce. Place the bowl in the fridge to cool it down.

For the pickled yellow raisins, combine the vinegar, cumin, sugar and salt in a small sauce pot and bring the mixture up to a boil. Place the raisins into a food-safe bowl. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the raisins and let them sit out at room temperature until cool.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to heat up. If you don’t, you can make the pizza on a baking sheet.

Dust flour over your fingers and the surface you will be stretching out the dough on. Place the ball of dough on the surface and start pushing down on it, starting from the centre and working your way out. Once the dough turns from a ball to a flat puck, place both hands on top. Move one hand away from the other in a stretching motion as you turn the dough in a circular motion on the counter. Work the dough like this until you stretch it into a 1-cm thick circle. You can also use a rolling pin if you feel more comfortable with that method, turning the dough 45-degrees with each pass to form it into a circle.

Using a spoon, spread the smoked cream sauce over the pizza dough, avoid the space one inch the edges to create the crust. Add as little or as much sauce as you want, depending on your taste. Place the slices of butternut squash on the pizza and season with salt. Rip up some of the buffalo mozzarella and place it on the pizza. Next, top the pizza with the duck confit and ripped kale.

Place the pizza in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bottom of the crust is slightly crispy and the dough in the centre is cooked through. Once cooked, pull the pizza out of the oven, top it with the pickled raisins, cut it into slices and serve.

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