I LOVE DUCK!
Cooked in it's own fat to confit, lacquered with Asian spices as a Peking Duck, ground into sausages, transformed into duck prosciutto, or as it is most often offered at restaurants here in the US, a boneless breast seared, sliced and served medium-rare. Yes, I love it all these ways and more.
It used to be that duck was something that you would only find in restaurants, but over the past five years or so has been popping up more frequently in finer grocery stores. You will almost always find it frozen whole, or as boneless breasts. Less frequently you might find already confited legs that require just a few minutes under the broiler to crisp the skin and warm through. I've never actually cooked a whole duck, nor have I made my own legs confit, though both of those projects are on my to-do list this Winter. Generally when I make duck I cook just the breasts as they are so tasty and quick to get on the table. I often serve them with a fruit chutney such as this one, or a vibrant sauce like the orange-chipotle wonder called for in this recipe which is the perfect balance of sweet, acid and heat….YUM!
I order my Muscovy breasts about a dozen at a time from D'artagnan, and each is large enough to feed two people unless you are absolutely starving. Despite the thick fat cap on each breast the meat itself is quite lean. As such you want to be careful not to overcook the breasts as it will get tough and dry if kept on the heat too long. I always start mine skin side down in a pan over medium heat to render and crisp the fat, then flip it and pop it into a hot oven to finish. Cooking time will vary greatly depending on the size of breast you get, so the best way to be sure the first few times you cook them is to check them with an instant read thermometer to ensure a medium-rare result. Cook the breasts to an internal temperature of 130℉, let them rest on a cutting board tented with foil for about 10 minutes, and you'll be ready to go.
Cheers – Steve
for the sauce:
- 2 1/2 cups orange juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped, canned chipotle chilis in adobo
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
for the duck:
- 3 (1 pound) boneless Muscovy duck breasts, or 6 (7-8 ounce) Long Island (Pekin) boneless duck breasts
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
for the sauce:
- Boil all the ingredients in a 2-3 quart sauce pan over medium heat, skimming any impurities from the surface as it reduces. Cook until syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 30-40 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve.
for the duck:
- Heat the oven to 400℉.
- Pat breasts dry on both sides with a paper towel, then with a very sharp knife, score the skin-fat side of the breasts in a checkerboard pattern just through the fat, be careful not to cut into the meat. Season well on both sides with salt and pepper and place skin side down into an oven-proof skillet set over medium heat. Cook until the much of the fat is rendered and the skin is a nice medium brown. Flip the breasts and place the pan in the oven to finish cooking. Cook to an internal temperature taken with an instant-read thermometer is 130℉. For the large (Muscovy) breasts total cooking time should be 15-20 minutes, for the small (Pekin) breasts 10-12 minutes.
- Pull the breasts from the pan, place on a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 7-10 minutes. Spoon a small pool of the sauce on each dinner plate, slice the breasts and fan the slices over the sauce, serve accompanied by your favorite green and some smashed sweet potatoes.