(I order my duck products from Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras,
online at http://www.artisanfoiegras.com/products/)
Many people donÕt cook duck at home because Òit makes such a mess, splattering fat everywhere.Ó
Follow this simple technique, and your problem will be solved. I think of duck as the other red meat.
Juicy as a steak, with crispy skin to boot. WhatÕs not to love?
Ingredients Ð Serves 6
á 3 duck breasts (they are huge, 1Ú2 per person is generally enough unless you are feeding a very hungry guy)
á Thyme, salt and pepper for seasoning
Gastrique (think of it as a French sweet & sour sauce, a nice counterpoint to the rich duck)
á 1 tsp. rendered duck fat
á 2 Tbs. finely minced shallots
á 2 cups Muscat or cider vinegar
á 1/3 cup honey, or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Crisscross duck skin with a sharp knife: Cut parallel lines 1/8Ó apart in one direction, then repeat at a 90û angle, making a small diamond pattern. Do not cut into the meat, just the skin. You will feel a difference in texture as your knife reaches the meat layer.
3. Season the duck with salt & pepper, thyme. Allow to rest for an hour.
4. Place duck skin side down in a cast iron skillet over medium low heat, and allow the fat to slowly melt. This will take at least 12 minutes. Pour out extra fat as it renders (donÕt throw it away, itÕs like gold in your fridge).
5. When the skin of the duck is nicely golden and crisp, with most of the fat melted away, turn the breasts over and cook briefly on the opposite side, just to seal in the juices, then turn back skin side up. Remove from heat.
6. Place duck in hot oven for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on whether you like the duck medium rare or medium well) to finish cooking. Allow to rest in a warm place for 6 to 7 minutes.
7. While the duck is cooking, make your gastrique: melt your shallots in a teaspoon of duck fat over medium heat until they begin to color. Add the vinegar, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a steady bubble to reduce vinegar by half. Whisk in the honey. Taste and adjust sweet/acid balance to suit your palate.
8. Slice 1/2 duck breast per person, fan on plate and serve with seasonal garnishes of your choice.
Recipe courtesy of Laurence Hauben, Market Forays. www.marketforays.com