Sunday, April 12, 2015

Duck Breast in Red Wine Sauce

Ah, Duck.  While it's one of the great delicacies of the culinary world, Duck is one dish in which many Americans never partake.  This is a shame, because Duck is rich, savory, succulent and full of flavor; it's surprisingly meaty, almost like a beefsteak, and it holds up well to fancy, full-flavored sauces like this red wine sauce presented here.

Duck should be on your culinary agenda to try--and not just at that fancy French restaurant that you've been meaning to try.  Duck is quite easy to prepare at home, and--though not foolproof, it can be quite simple.  This dish here is about as simple as it gets, but your guests will think you slaved away at this one with as much rich flavor as it ha.  And the thing is, even though we are saucing it up, most of the flavor comes from the duck meat itself.

Duck Breast in Red Wine Sauce

1 10-12 Oz Duck Breast
2/3 Cup Beef Stock
2/3 Cup Red Wine
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Butter
Dash Herbs de Province
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

First, get a hold of a good duck breast.  Round here, this isn't something you can usually find in your run of the mill grocery store.  We found what we were looking for at Central Market, where we opted to spend a little extra to go with a Muscovy Duck Breast, rather than run-of-the-mill Mallard.

Since it was just the two of us, one breast (at almost a pound) was plenty to split.  If you've got more mouths to feed, just multiply the ingredients above as needed.

To begin, score the skin side of the breast with a sharp knife

in a crosshatched pattern.

This will help the breast cook evenly and allow it to release its precious fat.  Whatever you do, don't ever remove the skin--its perhaps the best part--it crisps up nicely and also has a great deal of the duck fat that we'll be using later.

Sauté the duck breast skin side down 

over medium-high heat in a skillet for around ten minutes.  This is one of the few cases when you won't have to add any oil or fat to the pan first--the breast will release its own as you sauté.  

After a few minutes, the breast begins to release its fat

This duck fat is like gold, or maybe even platinum.  It is rich, decadent and flavorful.  If you have never had French fries fried in duck fat then you are truly missing out.  Always save the duck fat when you cook a dish like this.  You can freeze it and keep it for several months, or better still, use it to make a side dish for your duck breast.  Vegetables or mushrooms sautéd in duck fat are fabulous; you could also toss some potato chunks in the fat and then roast them, or even scramble your eggs the following morning in a little bit of it.  Today, we'll be reserving some for our sauce.  

Reserved Duck Fat  -- Pure Gold, Baby!

After the skin side of the breast crisps up, flip it and cook on the other side for another five minutes or so.  

Of course take a moment and admire that beautifully crisped skin.

Using a meat thermometer, check the temp of the breast at its thickest part.  Duck is poultry, so the USDA is gonna tell you to cook it to 160F, but this will dry it out and toughen it.  Duck, however, is also a red meat, and thus you can get away with medium rare, which is what we prefer, around 135 F on the thermometer.  Pull the breast when it is this temp 

and keep warm.  

Remove all but about two tablespoons of the duck fat from the skillet.  (reserve that fat!)  Add the beef stock to the skillet.  

Add the red wine.  

Add the tomato paste.  

Stir to combine.  Add the lemon juice

Add the butter.  Stir until melted.  

Add the herbs and then salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until sauce thickens a bit.  

Slice the breast crosswise 

from one end to the other.  

Serve immediately with the sauce.  

Until next time, 


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