Duck Carnitas Nachos

duck carnitas nachos-vertical-crdt john leeBeer-braised duck legs make a moist, meaty addition to this heaping tray of nachos featured in Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker.

For the duck carnitas:
1 dried New Mexico chile
3 lbs. duck legs, rinsed
2 pieces fresh orange peel, each about ¾ in. wide and 2 in. long
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 12-oz. bottle Vienna lager

For the nachos:
1 lb. thick corn tortilla chips
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1½ lb. shredded Mexican-style 4-cheese blend
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
4 green onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
6 thinly sliced radishes
Salsa, Mexican crema or sour cream and lime wedges for serving

To make the duck carnitas: Heat a small, heavy, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chile and toast, turning occasionally, until puffy and deep brownish-red but not black, 2-3 minutes. Stem and halve the chile, discard the seeds, and chop finely. Set aside.

Nestle the duck legs in a heavy pot just large enough to fit them snugly in a single, slightly overlapping layer. Add the toasted chile, orange peel, garlic, and salt. Pour in the lager, then add enough water to barely cover (it’s okay if a few points protrude). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat to medium-low and partially cover the pot. Simmer gently until the meat is tender enough to shred with a fork, about 1½ hours. Transfer the duck legs to a cutting board using tongs.

Discard the orange peels from the braising liquid. Raise the heat to high and boil until the liquid is almost completely evaporated and about all that’s left is the duck fat, about 10 minutes. (First the bubbles will become large and foamy, and then the foam will begin to subside.)

Meanwhile, shred the meat into bite-size chunks and finely chop the skin. Discard any excess fat and the bones.

Return the duck meat and skin to the pot and fry over medium heat until the meat is browned and crisp on the outside but still moist and tender inside, about 20 minutes. Stir often, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. Drain the meat in a colander (or lift it from the fat with a slotted spoon). (The carnitas can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in the refrigerator, covered in the fat. When you are ready to assemble the nachos, reheat the meat in a small saucepan, and then drain off the fat.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread about half of the tortilla chips in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top with about half each of the duck, the beans, and the cheese. Repeat to create a second layer. Scatter the jalapeños on top.

Bake the nachos until the cheese is melted and just beginning to brown in spots, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the green onions, then the cilantro, and then the radishes. Serve immediately with the salsa, crema, and lime wedges on the side.

Serves 8 to 12.

Reprinted with permission from Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker. Published by Chronicle Books.