Monday, December 13, 2010

Lentils Braised in Red Wine with Seared Duck Breast

This dish looks suspiciously like my recent chili recipe but I assure you it's a beast of an entirely different pursuasion.  Here I've incorporated lovely and tiny, dark green lentils with a mirepoix and red wine, cooking it down, down, down until the flavors have melted together and are ready to receive tiny slices of seared duck breast.  I made enough for company but you could cut this recipe in half for a family of four.

Lentils in Red Wine with Seared Duck Breast
Christine's original recipe
3 medium carrots (about), peeled and cut into small dice
2-3 stalks celery, cut into small dice
1 small to medium red onion, peeled and cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon duck fat or olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups small green lentils
2 cups good red wine (I used a French Côtes du Rhone)
2 cups chicken stock
2-3 cups hot water
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 boneless duck breasts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt duck fat (or olive oil, if using instead) over medium-high heat in a heavy pot.
Add the carrots, celery and onions and sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the garlic for another minute or two.
Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
Add the lentils, red wine, chicken stock, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf.
Stir and bring liquid to just under a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils absorb most of the liquid, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Check the lentils for doneness; they should be soft but not mushy.
If the liquid is gone before the lentils are cooked, add hot water in small amounts until the lentils are finished.
Remember to fish out the now de-leafed thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.
To Prepare the Duck:
Just before the lentils are done, heat a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect for this) over hight heat.
Using a sharp knife, score the fat side of the duck breasts in a diamond pattern, taking care to not cut through to the meat.  Season the duck on both sides with a pinch of sea salt and some grindings of black pepper.
Put the duck breasts in the skillet, fat side down and allow them to sear, untouched, until some of the fat has rendered and the skin is beginning to turn golden brown. Reduce the heat, if necessary, to keep the duck from scorching and the fat from burning.
Using tongs, turn the duck breasts and sear for another 5 minutes.
Remove the duck breasts to a plate and tent with foil.
Add a small amount of red wine to the skillet and deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and reducing the wine by two-thirds.
Pour all of this lovely goodness into the pot of lentils, which should be done by this time.
To serve:
Stir chopped parsley into the lentils then spoon them into warm bowls or plates.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the duck breasts crosswise into very thin strips and drape them over the lentils.
Open a bottle of the same red wine that was used in the cooking.


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