Recipes: Alex Guarnaschelli's Christmas Delights

Star chef shares the secret to a delicious holiday meal: duck and potato cakes.

Dec. 24, 2008— -- Chef Alex Guarnaschelli shares some of her favorite recipes. Click Here to read more about Guarnaschelli.

Chocolate Rum Balls

Recipe courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli

Yield: 24 Balls


1/3 cup honey

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum

Chocolate sprinkles, for rolling

¾ teaspoon coarse (but somewhat small size) sea salt


1. In a small skillet, simmer the honey until it becomes medium brown in color and has a light, caramel scent. Keep warm.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 types of chocolate and melt over a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water). Whisk in the butter pieces. Whisk in the caramelized honey, sugar and rum. Allow them to "set" a little.

3. Combine the chocolate mixture with the powdered sugar and work with your hands until mixture is smooth. Put the sprinkles and salt in a bowl. Roll the chocolate mixture into small balls, about 1½-inches each. Roll them in the sprinkle-salt mix until they are generously coated. Store them in an airtight container.

Crispy Potato Cake with Melted Cheese and Pickled Shallots

Recipe Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli

Yield: 6-8 servings


1 teaspoon caraway seeds

5-6 medium shallots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds

2 tablespoons Sherry (or red wine) vinegar

6 medium to large Idaho potatoes, scrubbed clean

¾ to 1 cup clarified butter

½ pound Gruyere cheese, grated

1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed

kosher salt

¼ pound aged Provolone cheese, grated

5-6 scallions, ends trimmed, washed and cut (green and white parts) into thin rounds


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a small skillet, gently heat the caraway seeds to bring out the scent of the seeds, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a bowl and combine with the vinegar. Add the shallots. Toss to blend and set aside so they lightly "pickle" as you make the potato cake.

3. Use the largest holes on a box grater, the "teeth" of a mandolin or a food processor attachment to shred the potatoes. Toss them in ½ cup of the clarified butter and season to taste with salt.

4. In a nonstick skillet (9 inches in diameter) heat another ¼ cup clarified butter. Remove the skillet from the stove and add all the potatoes into the skillet so they form a cake. Because potatoes have a lot of water, they will shrink substantially as they cook so don't worry if the potatoes are piled a little high at this point. Put the skillet back on the stove and cook over high heat until the edges of the undersides start to brown. If the cake seems dry, add a little more butter and loosen the edges by running a spatula gently around the sides to assure that it isn't sticking or burning.

5. When it is browned on the edges, remove the skillet from the heat and pour the excess butter into a bowl. Flip the potato cake on its other side and return the excess butter to the pan once again. This step will prevent any dangerous splattering of butter as you flip the cake. Put the pan back on the heat and cook until golden brown on the second side. Put the pan in the oven and cook, 10-12 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

6. Drain any excess butter off. Season the top with salt and turn it on its second side onto a platter. Season that side with salt. In another skillet, combine the garlic clove and gruyere cheese. Stir to blend and cook over gentle heat until the cheese melts and the garlic flavor starts to permeate the cheese. When the cheese is melted, remove the garlic cloves and season it lightly with salt. Pour the cheese directly over the potato cake. Drain any excess liquid from the shallots and top the potato cake with them. Sprinkle with the grated Provolone and scallions. Serve immediately.

Roasted Whole Duck With Red Cabbage and Orange

Recipe courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli

Yield: 4 servings

For the Orange Marmalade


1½ cups honey

4 oranges

2 lemons

¼ teaspoon saffron threads, finely chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the honey into a large skillet and bring to a simmer over low heat. Meanwhile, under cold running water, scrub the oranges and lemons. Cut them each into 12 even wedges (like a wedge you would get in a glass of iced tea or on the side with fish in a restaurant) and then slice those wedges into small pieces. Imagine making a smiley face (aka a lemon wedge) into almost a small dice by slicing each wedge vertically into small pieces. As you are cutting, remove any pits or large "pithy" pieces. Transfer the lemon and orange flesh to a bowl.

2. Add the saffron, salt and pepper to the honey and bring the mixture to a simmer. The honey should froth and bubble and turn slightly darker in color. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the honey to "settle" a little, 1-2 minutes. Then gently add in the citrus and return the skillet to the heat. Bring to simmer, stirring gently and steadily. Cook (using a candy thermometer) to 220-222 F. Do not put the thermometer all the way so it touches the bottom. Put the thermometer in halfway and test the temperature from the center (not the bottom) of the pot. If not using a thermometer, look for the texture of the liquid to thicken slightly as the fruit and honey cook together. The process should take about 10-15 minutes.

3.Transfer the marmalade to a bowl and allow it to cool.

For the Red Cabbage


2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 teaspoons cumin seeds 2 teaspoons caraway seeds 2 teaspoons crushed Coriander seeds 2 small heads red cabbage, cored, leaves cleaned of ribs and thinly sliced ½ stick unsalted butter 1 tablespoon kosher salt and more to taste 2 knobs fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated 1 teaspoon dry ginger ¼ cup dry Marsala 1½ cups orange juice


1. In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the cumin and caraway seeds and "toast" them slightly for 30 seconds. Do not let them turn dark brown.

2. Immediately add the cabbage. Toss to coat with the butter and spices. Season with salt to taste. Stir to blend and cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

3. Add the fresh ginger, dry ginger and marsala and stir to blend. Taste for seasoning. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

4. Lower the heat and add the orange juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Taste for seasoning.

For the Duck


One Long Island Duck, 3-3½ pounds kosher salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and arrange the oven rack so it is positioned in the center of the oven.

2. Remove the innards and reserve them for another recipe, if desired. Remove any loose pockets of fat surrounding the cavity. Season the inside of the duck with salt.

3. Count about 15 minutes roasting time for each pound of duck. Place the duck in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Using a rack to slightly elevate the duck from the bottom of the roasting pan will allow hot air to circulate around it as it cooks.

4. Place the duck in the center of the oven and cook, undisturbed, for half an hour. Then increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Remove the duck from the oven and baste with some of the excess fat in the bottom of the pan. Season the outside with salt. Return the pan to the oven and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. The duck should register about 155 degrees F when a thermometer is inserted into the thigh meat. Remove from the oven and allow the bird to "rest" for about 15 minutes. Note: Reserve any fat that accumulated at the bottom of the pan. I use that duck fat like butter for cooking. It's delicious!

Assembling the dish

1. Heat the cabbage and taste for seasoning. Transfer to a large serving platter. Heat the marmalade and generously glaze the exterior of the duck with it. Place the duck on top of the cabbage. Serve immediately.