I had a whole duck in my freezer for the past few months. I used most of that duck for my Lamb and Duck Couscous earlier this week, but I decided to keep the breasts for something special later in the week!
I still had a bit of Peach Confiture left from our cookout, and had a fridge full of arugula and asparagus from the farmer’s market. I knew a meal would come together out of this somehow. I have been watching Master Chef Junior on Hulu of late, and those kiddos searing meats inspired me to sear up a duck breast of my own.
Duck breast is generally slated to be a very difficult piece of meat to cook, but only because most folks overcook it. You want a lovely, pink 135 degree sear. This generally means searing on the stovetop and finishing it off for a few minutes in the oven. The trick to an easy seared breast is sticking a meat thermometer into one of your breasts and pulling it out when it reaches about 115 degrees. I cover the meat, still in its cast-iron pan, with some aluminum foil and go about making my salad until it reaches 135 degrees. This generally takes somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.
I love the idea of duck paired with fruit. Generally, it is paired with cranberry or cherry, or some form of red fruit or another, but I like to switch it up a bit. We paired it with apricot for our Lamb and Duck Couscous, and I know it goes well with this confiture, since it was dreamed up for a nice duck breast or some buttered chicken thigh in the first place!
If you don’t have the confiture, start that first, while you are waiting for the duck to get to room temperature! It takes a bit longer than the duck does to prepare. If you are not in the mood, take some a bit of shallot and mustard seeds, sauté for a few minutes and add a few tablespoons of apricot, peach, or other stone fruit jam, add some vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a quick arugula salad! I took a potato peeler and sliced up a bunch of asparagus to go with it. We made a dressing of Dijon mustard, lemon, olive oil, and honey, simple and classic!
2 duck breasts, tender (loose flap on the side) trimmed off
1-2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. butter
1-2 sprigs thyme
- Score the skin carefully with a very sharp knife. You want to make a crosshatch pattern through the skin without cutting into the meat.
Let the meat rest on the counter for 30 minutes (meanwhile start the Peach Confiture)
- Season with salt and pepper and rub vigorously into the surface of both sides.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat cast iron pan over high heat. Once it is hot but not quite burning.
Add the breasts and turn down the heat significantly, to a medium low. Move the duck breasts every 30 seconds to 1 minute to allow them to brown evenly and slowly to get a nice crust from the rendering fat.
- Cook for about 5-7 minutes until skin is nice and golden.
- Remove The duck breasts, pout off the duck fat (I reserve it!). Add 1 tbsp olive oil in the same pan and add the breasts skin side up. Add thyme and butter and immediately start basting the liquid, for about 3-4 minutes.
- Place thermometer in the fattest part of the smallest breasts. Bake for about 3-5 minutes, until an interior temperature of 115 is reached.
- Remove from oven, cover in foil and allow to rest until 135 is reached.
- Meanwhile, check on your peach confiure, and prepare the salad.
Slice the duck at a diagonal and serve with confiture and simple salad.
12 ounce bag of frozen peaches, peeled, sliced and cubed to about 1/2 inch pieces, or 4 large peaches, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 inches garlic, peeled and minced
3 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. ground coriander
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 rounded tbsp. of brown sugar
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
- Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan. Sautee shallots for 2-3 minutes until softened and translucent. Do not brown.
Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
- Add coriander, seeds, and pepper flakes. Cook 1-2 minutes until mustard seeds pop.
Add sugar and stir for 1-2 minutes until the sugar melts.
Lower heat a bit and add 1 tbsp. of the water. Be careful, it might splatter.
Cook until it thickens to a bit, around 3 minutes.
- Add peaches and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the peaches are softened. Add more water as needed if it dries out. Some pieces should be shredded a bit while others remain intact.
- Cool, and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Serve cold or warm.
Total cooking time: 50 minutes, confiture: makes 1 large bowl to serve 12-14, feel free to divide the recipe if using just for this meal, duck serves 2
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What else is there to be done? Let’s get more books in the hands of more people!
To celebrate our funding goal, I have made two new rewards if you want to secure a first edition copy of Chez Nous: Communal Dinners without all the other goodies, you can pre-order it at its retail value with the “JUST SEND ME THE BOOK” reward! You can also secure a copy of Chez Nous: High Tea with the “JUST SEND ME THE HIGH TEA GUIDE”!
Thank you all again, and I can’t wait to get these books into your kitchens!
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