Olmsted's Taylor Hester Turned Extra Ducks into Brined Pastrami

By Amelia Schwartz | Will Blunt


Amelia Schwartz
Will Blunt
Duck Pastrami, Grilled Radicchio, Pecan-Duck Jus, Herb Oil, and Fig | Chef Taylor Hester of Olmsted
Duck Pastrami, Grilled Radicchio, Pecan-Duck Jus, Herb Oil, and Fig | Chef Taylor Hester of Olmsted

When Olmsted was forced to halt service, the kitchen was left with a fridge full of produce, condiments and way too many ducks. Chef de Cuisine Taylor Hester refused to waste the precious birds. “The night everything was closed, we had to do something [to the ducks],” says Hester. So he turned to the brine being used for Olmsted’s beef pastrami, and three days later, his duck pastrami was born. In May, Olmsted owner Greg Baxtrom and Hester reopened the restaurant as Olmsted Trading Post, selling artisanal, packaged items straight from the kitchen. The duck pastrami was an immediate hit, and when it came time to open for outdoor dining, Hester had to put it on the menu. This dish’s success is more than just the protein but also in the radicchio, that pecan jus, the duck heart sidecar—all of its complex elements acting in harmony to elevate the noble duck pastrami. Let’s break it down.


The Duck Pastrami

Hester treats his duck breasts to a wet brine packed with aromatics land after 48 hours, it’s removed and rubbed with a mixture of black pepper, coriander and brown mustard seed. The duck gets transferred to a smoker, where it stays for two hours with hickory wood chips. Hester slices the duck to reveal its tender meat with a thin, melt-in-your-mouth layer of fat, a contrast to the blackened, peppery skin. 


The Grilled Radicchio

Hester lightly blanches halved, local treviso radicchio and seasons it with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper before it gets grilled over coals. The radicchio, with its charred, wilted edges, is plated beside the pastrami.


The Pecan-Duck Jus

Reserved duck bones and feet are roasted, then added to a big ol’ pot with mirepoix and water and simmered overnight. The next morning, Hester reduces the broth and mounts it in butter, then simmers it some more to thicken. He folds in pecan oil, toasted pecans, braised radicchio, and figs. This sticky jus gets spooned over the duck pastrami and grilled radicchio like gravy on Turkey Day.



The Herb Oil

The parsley-chive-bay leaf oil follows the jus, providing a pop of color and bright herbaceousness to the decadent pastrami, jus and radicchio. 


The Figs:

Raw, halved figs are delicately laid atop each collection of duck pastrami and radicchio. You’ve gotta dip and smother the fig in the pecan-duck jus for the optimal fall flavor bomb. Think duck figgy pudding. 


The Duck Heart Sidecar:

Hester channels Maison Yaki for a grilled duck heart skewer. He brines duck hearts for 12 hours, then skewers them with radicchio and fig. He grills the skewer and dips it in that immaculate duck jus to form a glaze. The flavor of the skewer is akin to the pastrami plate but much more pronounced and concentrated.



Share on: