Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Duck Breast With A Lovely Sauce

I've had a beautiful, plump duck breast from Grimaud Farms in my freezer. Even in its frozen state you could see that it was plump. And its plumpness got even more noticible after it had thawed. Such a plump little duck breast I said as I took in out of the freezer, placed it on the counter and waited for it to thaw. You see, I'd never cooked a duck breast before. Part of my process when I need to think about how I'm going to go about cooking something, especially when I've never cooked that particular something before, is to look at it, talk to it, see if it will talk back. If it doesn't, then I go talk to something else. Like other ingredients. Would they like to be included in the cooking of the duck breast? Would, say, the bottle of Fig & Balsamic Vinegar and some green peppercorns like to have a go at the duck breast? Or wait, maybe the Pomegranates au Merlot sauce and the green peppercorns? A little orange juice perhaps?
Time was running out, dinner was going to be very late, and I still hadn't decided, so I made up tiny little batches of what I thought might make several good sauces for the duck and shoved small spoonfuls into my husband's mouth to let him decide. And so he did. And this is what I did. That duck breast never did say a word on the subject.

1 plump little duck breast (I got mind from Grimaud Farms)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil for the pan
1/2 cup good Merlot
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (see note)
2 tablespoons Pomegranates au Merlot sauce
1 heaping tablespoon green peppercorns packed in brine

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Score the fatty side of the duck breast in a cross hatch pattern, taking care to not cut through to the meat.
Generously sprinkle both sides of the breast with kosher salt and black pepper.
In an oven proof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high. When the pan is hot, place the duck breast skin side down and cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the breast over and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off most of the accumulated duck fat and place the skillet and duck breast in the oven for about 5 minutes more or until the meat is slightly pink. Remove from the oven and place the duck on a plate tented loosely with foil. Return the skillet to the top of the stove over medium high heat and deglaze with the red wine, scraping the browned bits off the bottom. Add the orange juice and the Pom-Merlot sauce and reduce the liquid by at least half or until a thick sauce forms. Add any juices that have accumulated under the duck breast then add the green peppercorns and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
Slice the duck breast across the grain.
To serve, spoon some sauce onto a warm plate, place a few slices of duck on top, drizzle a bit more sauce over the duck, eat, swoon. Now the duck's talking.

When I want to use orange juice in a sauce and find that I don't have any in the house, I use a couple of large spoonfuls of frozen concentrate instead. I don't dilute it with water. I just let the other liquidy ingredients take care of that. I've found it to be very successful and tasty.

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