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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seared Duck Breast with Cherry Port Sauce

Seared Duck Breast 

There's no time like the present to prepare this delicious, elegant entree'. You CAN do this!
Start off with a package of frozen duck breasts. Figure one per person. (If you can get fresh, so much the better).
Thaw them out and place them on a wad of paper towels.  Dry them off, then score the skin in a diamond pattern. You'll want to slice through the thick skin right down to the meat, but not through the meat. Sprinkle some Kosher salt on top. What we're doing here is drawing moisture out of the skin. This will help to crisp up the skin. As you see moisture develop , sop it off with a clean paper towel. Expect to do this about four times prior to cooking.
 Put two tablespoons butter in a cast iron skillet. We use butter here, rather than olive oil, as the milk solids are better for browning. Heat it up on medium / low heat. Since the heat is fairly low, the butter won't burn. Add the duck skin side down. This step will take 15 to 20 minutes to complete. What we're doing here is rendering the fat, leaving a nice, crispy skin all the way through. If you cook this in a skillet that's too hot, you'll end up with a crispy outer skin, and something that tastes like whale blubber underneath. Not delish.
 Don't touch it. Don't move it. Back away from the stove. Just let it be for 15 minutes. Then, you can peek at the skin to see what it looks like. Not 10. Not 12 minutes. 15. Amen.
 When the skin looks like this, it's ready to be flipped over. See how pink it is on the bottom? And how brown and crisp it is on the top?  That's what we want. No overdone duck! It's a crime against fowl, I'm pretty sure. 
 Now, just keep it in the skillet for about 3 minutes on med/low heat. Then, put the breasts on a cutting board, covered with a piece of foil, or a big bowl, or something. Anything. Just cover it up.  Get them out of the hot skillet and rest them for about 15 minutes. 

 Cut these into 1/2 inch slices when ready to serve. Not before. No, No, No. Don't want to lose any precious moisture to the cutting board. That's another crime against fowl. I'm the sheriff of the fowl patrol. I elected myself.
Serve the duck on a bed of creamy polenta, topped with a cherry / wine sauce. Magical. Trust me. Make this. 
Thank you.

Cherry Wine Sauce:
1 Tbls butter
1 shallot, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small bag frozen sweet cherries (about 10 oz)
2 Tbls raspberry (or balsamic) vinegar
1 Tbls brandy or cognac
2 Tbls red wine
1/4 cup tawny port
1/4 cup veal demi glace (may sub beef stock)
2 Tbls butter to finish

  1. In a skillet, melt butter.
  2. Add shallot and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes until shallot is translucent.
  3. Add cherries, vinegar brandy, wine,  port, and demi glace.
  4. Reduce until thickened.
  5. Stir in butter to finish sauce.
  6. Taste.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Creamy Polenta:
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1 1/4 cups chicken stock (or broth). Not water. Water has no flavor. Water is for drinking, not cooking. 
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2/3 cup cornmeal (Yep. Plain old cornmeal).
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (Not from the green can. Never from the can.)
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls Creme fraiche

  1. Mix milk, cream, broth, garlic, thyme, rosemary in a heavy large saucepan. 
  2. Simmer 15 minutes over medium low heat. 
  3. Strain, reserving liquid.
  4. Put the milk mixture back in the skillet. Heat to simmer.
  5. Add cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
  6. Mixture will thicken as it cooks.
  7. Do not add more cornmeal. Even though it looks like it's too thin. Just be patient. Creamy polenta takes a little time. And love. And strong arms. Keep whisking!
  8. When the polenta is nice and creamy, take it over the top. Add the Creme Fraiche, Parmesan cheese, and butter. Season with salt and pepper, stir vigorously.
  9. Pour into a serving bowl.
  10. Top with duck slices.
  11. Spoon cherry sauce over the top.
  12. Enjoy.
  13. Ponot Noir is a perfect wine for this dish.
  14. Chocolate Mousse is a wonderful dessert with this dinner.

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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.