Recipes: Dishes for Entertaining from Chef Alyssa


WHETHER YOU'RE FEEDING a crowd at a party this season or making an impression on date night, these recipes are sure to add some excitement (and bold flavors) to your table. 

Duck Confit Spring Rolls with Spiced Muscadine Sauce

Serves 8


Duck confit:

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on duck legs

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon pickling spice

1 teaspoon juniper berries

Approximately 1 pint of duck fat (or olive oil)


1. Pat duck dry with a paper towel and set aside in a plastic wrap-lined baking dish.

2. Combine kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl.

3. Evenly distribute the salt mixture over the duck; press it onto the skin. Layer the bay leaf and spices under the duck skin. Cover the duck with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.

4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

5. Rinse duck legs under cold water to remove the rub and excess juices; then pat dry.

6. Arrange the duck legs in a baking pan in a single layer. Cover with the duck fat and cover the dish. (If using foil to cover, place a sheet of parchment paper between.)

7. Cook duck in the middle rack of the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until the skin is transluscent and the meat is tender.

8. Remove the duck from the fat and let cool about 20 minutes; then pull the meat from the bones, discarding the skin.

9. Refrigerate the baking pan with the drippings until separated; then skim off and reserve the fat for frying. 


Spiced muscadine sauce: 

1 pound purple muscadines 

3 tablespoons sugar

1 orange, zest and 2 tablespoons juice

¼ teaspoon salt

5 scrapes of nutmeg clove


The following ingredients should be tied into a sachet:

1 sprig rosemary

1 cinnamon stick

6 slices fresh ginger

2 cloves

2 teaspoons black peppercorns 


1. Using your fingers, pop the muscadine pulp and juice from the hull into a saucepan. Reserve the hulls in a separate bowl. 

2. Place the saucepan on the stove and bring to a simmer. After about 5 minutes of simmering, you will see the pulp begin to break down. At that point, transfer the pulp and juice to a fine colander. Push the pulp and juice through, leaving the seeds inside the strainer. Discard the seeds. 

3. Return the pulp and juice to the saucepan. Add the hulls and remaining ingredients (including sachet) and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for about 30 minutes; then remove the sachet and adjust seasoning to taste with additional sugar or salt. 


Spring roll filling:

2 tablespoons duck fat

1/8 head cabbage, very finely shredded

8 ounces butternut squash, julienned

2 scallions, white and green parts, julienned

4 cups of pulled duck leg confit 

1 tablespoon cornstarch, combined with 2 tablespoons water 

Duck fat or coconut oil, for frying

8-12 spring roll wrappers


1. In a large sauté pan, melt the duck fat over medium-high heat. 

2. Add the cabbage and butternut squash; season with salt. Sauté until the vegetables are bright in color and beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; then pour vegetable mixture out onto a rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool.

3. Once mixture is cooled, tilt sheet pan and pour off any liquid that released. You want a pretty dry mixture.

4. Remove the spring roll wrappers from their packaging. Lay a damp tea towel over the wrappers to prevent drying.

5. Working one at a time, lay a wrapper on a clean, dry surface with one corner of the wrap facing you, in a diamond shape. Place a portion of duck confit in a 3-inch long row toward the middle of the spring roll wrapper. Add cabbage and lay butternut squash neatly next to it. Resist the urge to over-stuff.

6. Using a pastry brush, brush the cornstarch mixture along the edges of the half of the wrapper farthest from you. Take the corner of the wrap closest to you and bring it up over the filling tightly. Then pull the side corners in, and roll up tightly from the bottom. Set aside on a sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with a new roll until the filling is gone. If you need to stack rolls on the sheet pan, make sure to put a layer of parchment in between each layer, and always keep the rolls covered with plastic.

7. Heat the duck fat or oil in a heavy Dutch oven, stockpot, or deep fryer to 350 degrees. Carefully place 3 or 4 spring rolls into the oil and turn them in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon or tongs and remove the rolls onto to the lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with the rest of the rolls.

8. Serve hot with spiced muscadine dipping sauce (recipe above).


Seared Scallops with Sweet Potato Noodles   

Serves 4



2 large sweet potatoes, peeled

3 to 4 ounces bacon, diced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup pulled duck confit

2 cups mustard greens

3 tablespoons dry sherry

½ orange

6 sage leaves, chiffonade

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Using a julienne peeler, peel the sweet potatoes to create noodles. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet or sauté pan, render the bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon is crisp, add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter melts and begins to bubble, add the noodles and mustard greens, and then cook for 3 to 4 minutes (the noodles will become bright orange and soften). Season with salt and pepper.

3. Deglaze with the sherry and a squeeze of the orange. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in sage leaves and the remaining butter. Add a little more salt and pepper to finish. Serve with the seared scallops (recipe follows).


Seared scallops:

8 to 12 dry-packed sea scallops

2 to 3 teaspoons ghee (clarified butter)

Sea salt and white pepper to taste


1. Place the scallops on a double layer of paper towels and let sit for about 4 minutes; then repeat on opposite side. This will dry the scallops and bring them closer to room temperature for a proper sear.

2. Sprinkle the top of the scallops with salt and white pepper.

3. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute; then add the clarified butter and wait until it shimmers and begins to smoke. You want a very hot, yet controlled, temperature.

4. Place the seasoned sides of the scallops down in the butter, waiting 10 to 20 seconds before adding each scallop. You can rotate the pan as you add the scallops to move the butter where you need it to go. Once all scallops are in, season the top with salt and pepper.

5. Let sear 1-3 minutes, until a golden brown crust forms on the bottom. Then, flip the scallops and cook another 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan, pat excess butter from the bottom with a clean paper towel, and serve immediately over sweet potato noodles.


Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Apples and Escarole Salad

Serves 4


Pork chops: 

1 quart + ¼ cup apple cider

3 tablespoons salt, plus more for seasoning

1 bay leaf

1 cup ice cubes

Juice of ½ lemon

4 pork chops

1 Fuji apple, sliced to 1/8 -inch thick

1 cup cooked white beans

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon butter

Cooking oil


1. In a large pot, bring 1 quart of cider, salt, and bay leaf to a boil. Remove from heat, and allow to cool 10 minutes. Add the ice cubes, and transfer the marinade to a container or a sealable bag. Squeeze in the lemon juice

2. Add the pork chops, making sure they are submerged. Let marinate, refrigerated, for 2 hours.

3. Remove the pork chops and pat them dry; then let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking them. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

4. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add enough cooking oil to coat, and then add the pork chops. Cook until a golden brown crust develops, about 3 minutes; then flip over and repeat on other side. If you need help determining the doneness, check with a digital thermometer. When it reads 140 degrees, remove the pork from the pan to rest.

5. While the pork rests, add a little more oil to the pan and cook the apples until the edges brown and they soften. Season with a pinch of salt.

6. Add the white beans, red pepper flakes, and the remaining apple cider. When the cider comes to a simmer, add the butter and stir to incorporate. Turn off the heat and add the pork back into the pan. 

7. Top with the escarole salad (recipe follows) and serve.


Escarole salad:

1 head escarole, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 watermelon radish, shaved

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

Juice of half a lemon

Salt to taste


1. Combine vegetables in a large bowl. 

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the honey and olive oil to create the dressing.

3. Pour dressing over the salad and allow to marinate about 5 minutes before serving.

Categories: Food & Entertaining