The Epicurean III

Originally Posted in The Daily Pulse 08.30.04

FYI, I’m always amazed that this section is so popular. One of my readers in Australia actually made one of my previous recipes for his family and it went over exceptionally well. Keep cooking people. We’ve got to get some skills in you to ensure eventually someone may want to spawn with you.

This week, I’m talking Duck. The second best of all meats (Lamb is first), and by far the best of all poultry, Duck is best served rare to medium rare, and is a lot easier to cook and prepare than most people think. It also is far more affordable than you would assume, although still pricier than Chicken or Turkey. I have cook books devoted solely to this taste sensation and if you haven’t had a duck dinner before, you are missing out on one of life’s true simple pleasures.

Now often you hear a Plebian of Duck Ala L’orange. Or Duck with a plum hoi sin sauce. Those are the two most common ways you will hear of a duck meal. And yes, Duck goes amazingly well with fruit. The texture of the meat along with the rich and savory taste that can not be describe, only ingested blends with the sweetness of fruit to create a rich tapestry for your palate.

But this week I want to expand your horizons. I considered Duck with a black current sauce, which is a very common French dish, but I realized most Americans don’t know what a current is. So instead, I’m going to give you a combo you might not ever have thought of on your own. Sauteed with a blueberry sauce. Crazy, eh? This recipe also works with Raspberries or blackberries, but as blueberries are the most perfect fruit (I don’t really count a pomegranate as a fruit as you only eat the seeds) what better sauce to serve with a duck? As well if you’re not a berry fan, this same formula works with other fruits, like apricots and peaches. Hell, this recipe is really the all purpose fruit sauce for beginners.

INGREDIANTS

4 Pekin Duck breasts or 2 mullard duck breasts. Either way you should have 2 pounds of Daffy and Donald.

Salt and Pepper

1 cup blueberries

One-half cup port (or one-fourth cup water if you don’t want to use port)
1 cup concentrated duck broth/ one-fourth cup duck glaze (see below)

1 tablespoon of either raspberry, sherry, or red wine vinegar. More if you want that undercurrent flavor to be stronger

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Steps

1. Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the duck breasts in two directions, about 20 slashes per direction. If you’re not sure what the term scoring means in a culinary setting, it basically means to make deep cuts in the skin of the duck, but not so deep that the meat is exposed. You should lean the knife to the side to cut through as much fat as possible. Give the breast a 90 degree turn and repeat. You should end up a ton of intersecting slashes. Think the face of Pinhead from Hellraiser for you low-browers.

2. Salt and pepper to taste. Place duck in the fridge to keep it cool while doing the next steps.

3. Rinse the blueberries and put them in the saucepan with the port. Cover the pan and cook for five minutes over medium heat, then remove the lid and continue cooking for another ten minutes. This concentrates the juices released by the berries. In the mean time, take that concentrated duck broth and reduce it in a separate saucepan to make that one-fourth cup glaze I mentioned earlier. Add the glaze to the blueberries and their juices, stir to combine, and then boil it for 1-2 minutes. The end result should be a very light, syrupy creation.

4. Whisk in the vinegar and butter and season to taste with salt.

5. Heat a sauce pan over medium to high heat and saute’ the duck breasts. Make sure they are SKIN SIDE DOWN. If you are using Pekin duck breasts, this should be 8-10 minutes of cooking, or 12-18 for the mullard. Turn the breasts over than crank up the heat to high. Cook for 1 minute if using pekin, or 2 if mullard.

6. Slice the breasts crosswise, arrange the slices on plates and then spoon the sauce over them.

If you want a good veggie to go with this, I suggest Asparagus, fresh peas, or green beans. If you need an alcoholic beverage, again Port is excellent with this meal if you’re into that. Otherwise I would recommend a fruity wine to match the sauce. Probably a German Riesling or a good Tokay-Pinot Gris. Enjoy.