Sunday, October 24, 2010

It Was Just Ducky!

Duck, one of my favorite foods, was the central ingredient in a nice dinner I prepared for Frank and me last evening. The new Fresh Market carries fresh duck breast from D'Artagnan. I only needed one duck breast as it weighed in at just over one pound, plenty of duck for two of us. We started the evening with a Frank-prepared Frisee salad with warm panko crusted goat cheese and a lovely Dijon vinaigrette dressing. Frank is the king of the salad. The main course was Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Port Sauce (recipe from / Bon Appetit follows) which came out great. This was served with individual potato gratin, and Liz's Broccoli Almondine. Both made nice accompaniments to the duck. We paired the meal with one of the wines we picked up on our recent Willamette Valley journey; the Dobbs Family Estate 2006 Griffin's Cuvee Pinot Noir. The intense tannins blended perfectly with the richness of the duck. Unfortunately, dessert was a minor disappointment. I opted for purchased Creme Brulee from The Fresh Market, but the entire custard warmed up in my attempt to caramelize the sugar crust. The flavor was fine, but the custard should still be chilled. Oh well, the decaf espresso from my new illy espresso machine was a fine conclusion to a lovely dinner. 

Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Port Sauce
Bon App├ętit | June 2009
by Diane Rossen Worthington
Yield: Makes 2 servings

2 5-to 6-ounce duck breast halves or one 12-to 16-ounce duck breast half

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled butter, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 large)
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
8 halved pitted sweet red cherries, fresh or frozen, thawed
2 tablespoons tawny Port
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey

Place duck breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound lightly to even thickness (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch). Discard plastic wrap. Using sharp knife, score skin in 3/4-inch diamond pattern (do not cut into flesh). DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck with salt and pepper. Add duck, skin side down, to skillet and cook until skin is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn duck breasts over, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes longer for small breasts and 8 minutes longer for large breast for medium-rare. Transfer to work surface, tent with foil to keep warm, and let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add shallot to skillet and stir over medium heat 30 seconds. Add broth, cherries, Port, and honey. Increase heat to high and boil until sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon cold butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Thinly slice duck. Fan slices out on plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

My comments: 

  • Some of the reviews from Epicurious mentioned that the sauce needed more than 3 minutes to reduce and recommended preparing the sauce ahead of the duck being completed. I did that, but not sure it is a big deal since the duck needs to rest about 10 minutes and by that time the sauce should be reduced. But I started the sauce with 1 tablespoon of butter and sauteed the shallot for a minute, then added the rest of the ingredients. I let it reduce while the duck cooked, then added some of the pan drippings to the sauce while the duck was resting (it was a tired little ducky). I also added any accumulated juices from the resting duck to the final sauce. The sauce was not overly sweet, just a hint of sweetness from the cherries and honey. I also used maybe 4 tablespoons of port instead of the 2 recommended in the recipe. 
  • Due to the size of the duck breast, I had to finish it in a 375-degree oven to get it up to medium rare temperature. It was nicely seared on both sided before I put it in the oven.

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