Winter is my favorite season in Houston — low humidity, mosquitoes are dead, the light is clear and speaks of vitality, and the temperatures are perfect. In addition, one can better enjoy hearty and rich dishes.
Kris Bistro & Wine Lounge has something on its menu now that works well for cooler evenings. They call it cassolette en croute, and it includes one of my favorite foods: duck. To begin with, it’s a beautiful dish. The pastry is a work or art, and the first glimpse of peas, carrots, and mushrooms (not to mention the duck) sparks the palate. That pastry, which partially covers the cocotte in which the dish is served, is light and airy, and is anything but decoration.
You’ll find yourself gently cutting it and mixing it into the sauce, which is what I did. Some of it flakes, while other parts of it melt into the bowl.
And about that sauce: It is supreme. Literally. It’s sauce suprême, and it’s done well here. Chicken stock, shallots sweated in Sauternes, cream. You would be happy eating this alone as a soup, because it is that good, even better, but when the other components of the dish come into the mix your pleasure will increase exponentially.
The duck leg (I believe I had a thigh as well on a recent visit), while not the solo star here, is certainly the leading actor in this ensemble. It’s moist, and the skin retains a touch of satisfying crispness. When you gather everything on a spoon (you’ll want a spoon for that sauce) and taste it all at the same time, your eyes will close involuntarily. I have had many plates and bowls of duck confit many, many times all over France, and this dish at Kris Bistro is as good as any of them.
It’s comfort food at its best.
(Full disclosure: James Brock served as Kris Bistro’s Business Development Manager; he no longer has a relationship with the restaurant.)