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    Seared duck breast with orange and currant couscous

    This is the first in my new series “Oldies but Goodies”, recipes garnered from newsprint over the years. I’ve given credits when found. The majority of these were cut from daily newspapers published in Chicago, my home town, all but a few cut by my mom’s hand.

    Preparation time: 20 minutes – Marinating time: 4 to 12 hours – Cooking time: 15 minutes – Serves 6

    You will need:

    For the marinade:

    ¼ cup orange juice, strained
    Coarsely chopped zest of one orange
    2 TBSP red wine vinegar
    2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
    ½ red onion
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    ½ freshly ground pepper
    3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs
    2 or 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
    6 boneless duck breast halves

    For the couscous

    1¾ cups water
    1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    2 cups couscous
    ¼ dried currants
    6 orange sections pith removed, cut into 4 pieces
    2 TBSP finely grated orange zest
    3 TBSP fresh orange juice, strained
    3 TBSP fresh mint
    1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

    1. – T make the marinade. In a large bowl or shallow baking dish, mix all the marinade ingredients together. Put the duck breasts in the marinade and turn several times. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 4 to 12 hours.

    2. – To make the couscous. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boi8l and add the 1 tsp olive oil, salt, couscous and currants, stirring to mix. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Using a fork and your fingertips, fluff the couscous to separate it. Taste and adjust for salt. Stir in the oranges, orange zest, orange juice and mint. Set aside and keep warm or let cool to room temperature.

    3. – Remove the breasts from the marinade and pat dry. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the breast and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each breast into ¼ inch thick slices. Arange each sliced breast in a fan shape on a warm dinner plate accompanied by the couscous. Serve immediately.

    NB: Add the marinade to the pan in which you cooked the duck, heat to a boil scraping the brown bits from the pan and cook for 2 or more minutes until slightly thickened. Pour over duck breast and couscous.

    Bourbon/Cherry Duck Breast

    With my audition only a few weeks away I needed to test what I consider one of my better creations. I initially created the sauce using Port Wine to be used with venison but wanted to try a different element for the new show. As with other duck recipes you will find here I butcher my own bird. This gives me several meals and tons of duck fat to use in the future. As is the case once I separated the duck, I made stock, confit de canard and liver paté. I reserved the breasts, one for the test and one for the audition.

    You will need:

    Duck Breast — One/serving
    Shallott — Approximately 1 TBSP/serving
    Bourbon — Two or Three TBSP/serving — not to worry the alcohol will burn off and you will get a great background taste.
    Cherry Preserves — Use a good quality tart cherry, approximately two TBSP/serving
    Unsalted Butter — One or Two TBSP/serving, make sure it’s cold.
    Sea Salt/Pepper — to taste.

    Using a sauté pan large enough to hold the breast(s) heat until almost smoking (don’t use a non-stick pan here) turn heat down to medium high and place breast(s) skin side down, if the pan is hot enough you should hear a pop which will be the skin seizing up at contact. Sear breast until you get a nice crisp skin. Place sauté pan in a pre-heated 350°F oven and cook until the inside temperature reads 120°. NB: Do not cook beyond this temperature as the breast will dry out very quickly, it should be served at medium rare. Remove the breast from the sauté pan, place uncovered on a dish.

    Pour off any excess fat from the pan and add the diced shallots. Cook a few seconds and remove pan from heat, pour in Bourbon and swirl to pick up the fond from the bottom of the pan. Return to heat and add the cherry preserves whisking to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Put the butter into the pan and swirl to emulsify.

    Slice the breast(s) into approximately ¼” thick and serve. I served this with Cranberry/Pistachio Rissotto.

    Duck Breast with Cherry/Port Sauce

    Duck has always been a favorite of mine although I don’t prepare it often when I do I try to use a different sauce to accompany the dish. I love the taste of a good Port in a sauce and lately have had cherries on my mind. So with that I decided to try combining the two too go with the breast.

    You will need:

    Whole Duck Breast – one/serving
    Port Wine – approx. 1 TBSP/serving – I used Porto Fino
    Cherry Preserves – approx. 1/8 cup/serving – I used Bonne Maman from France although you can use your own favorite dark cherry preserve.
    Butter – unsalted – approx. 1 TBSP/serving.

    Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold breast(s) to medium – carefully place breast(s) skin side down to the pan and cook until fat is rendered and skin is crisp the amount of time needed will depend on the size of the meat. Turn the duck over to the meat side and place in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven to finish. NB: Duck should be served pink. Remove the pan from the oven and place duck on a plate, cover with foil and prepare sauce.

    Pour off any excess fat carefully add the Port Wine scrapping up the fond at the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine to about half and add the cherry preserves then cook until it melts and add the butter one TBSP at a time swirling it until it is completely emulsified. Slice duck breast(s) to your desired thickness for presentation (alternatively serve whole). Plate the breast(s) and pour cherry sauce over them and enjoy!

    Cassoulet with Duck Confit & Sausage

    While shopping the other day my favorite market had duck on sale and not wanting to pass up a good deal I snapped one up. I let the frozen bird thaw in my refrigerator while I came up with some ideas to use the entire foul. This recipe takes a day or two but well worth the time. I wanted to use the breasts for one meal, the rendered fat for confit and the stock to use with the cassoulet.

    Once thawed I carefully removed the breast meat, separated the leg/thigh pieces and split the carcass so that it would fit into one of my soup pots. (You can see a video on butchering the duck with the Rouxbe link that follows this post.)

    You need to render as much of the fat from the bird as possible. When I removed the leg/thigh portions I removed all extra fat, cut it into small pieces, added all the fat that I had removed from the breasts and carcass and put into a shallow pan along with a small amount of water, just enough to cover. I put a bacon press on top of the mixture to weigh it down and cooked over a low heat until the fat was rendered and the water evaporated. Let the fat cool then place in a container and refrigerate. Take the skin that is left and place on a sheet pan and bake until crisp for a cracklin garnish.

    For the Duck Confit

    Place the leg/thigh portions into an oven proof dish skin side up, add all of the duck fat you made earlier there should be enough to cover the portions, if a little skin is above the fat it’s OK. Place in a pre-heated (225 F) oven and slow roast for approximately 2 or 3 hours. The confit is done when the duck meat pulls away from the bones easily. In the meantime place the carcass and neck into stock pot and make a quick duck stock. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can remove the meat portions from the fat. Strain the fat through a coffee filter lined strainer and return to the refrigerator for further use. Shred the duck from the bones and reserve until ready to use for the cassoulet.

    For the cassoulet you will need:

    White beans – one pound – pre-soaked.
    Bacon – fat back or thick sliced – I used Danish style – approx 4 or 5 slices
    Smoked Sausage – I used Polish, German Brautwurst or whatever sausage you desire – cut into bite sized pieces Carrot – cut into 1/2 inch pieces – approx 1 or 2 cups.
    Onion – cut into 1/2 inch pieces – approx 1 or 2 cups.
    Celery – cut into 1/2 inch pieces – approx. 1 or two cups.
    Tomato Paste – approx 2 TBSP
    Garlic – 2 or 3 cloves.
    Fresh thyme – 4 or 5 sprigs
    Oregano – 4 or 5 sprigs

    In a stock pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients add bacon and a little duck fat and heat until rendered, add the tomato paste and cook until well mixed, add the vegetables and sausage, sauté until lightly colored. Add the pre-soaked beans, stir to combine and add the dock stock (you can also add some white wine for additional flavor). Cover and cook over low heat until the beans are tender, add the fresh herbs and duck meat and warm through. Keep warm until ready to serve. If you have left overs place in a container and freeze for another meal.

    Reserve the Duck Breasts for another meal. I’ll put up a Duck with Cherry Sauce soon.

    Enjoy!

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