by June Hersh, The Kosher Carnivore
The gamy flavor of the duck pairs perfectly with the sweet taste of the figs and apricots to create a sinfully simple and delicious dish. You could actually forgo the sauce and spoon some of the collected fat over the sliced breasts and be very happy, but why stop at very happy when you can be full out delirious.
10 dried Mission figs, stems removed
10 dried Turkish apricots
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons Madeira wine, or dry sherry
Several sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
4 (1/2 to 3/4 pound) duck breasts
In a medium saucepan, combine the figs, apricots and stock. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes. Remove the fruit from the sauce with a slotted spoon, chop into small pieces, and reserve. To the pot of stock, add the Madeira, thyme and rosemary. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 10 minutes.
While the sauce cooks, prepare the duck breasts by patting the meat dry and then scoring the fat in a cross-hatch pattern, being careful not to pierce the meat. Sprinkle the duck with kosher salt and pepper and let them rest, on a paper towel to be sure they are nice and dry.
Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet on the stove, and lay the breasts, skin side down in the pan. Cook over medium heat, until the skin is nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a turkey baster or large spoon, remove the excess duck fat as it collects. Reserve the fat. Turn the breasts over and cook for 5 minutes on the second side. Turn them once more skin side down and cook for just a couple of minutes to crisp up the skin. For rare, you can remove the breasts and cover loosely with foil, let them rest for at least 5 minutes. For medium, continue to cook the breasts for an additional 5 minutes. Alternatively, you could pop the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
While the breasts rest, strain the sauce to remove the rosemary and thyme. Create a slurry by mixing 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water, stir back into the pan, heat and repeat if necessary. Add the reserved fruit and heat through. Slice the breasts, and spoon the sauce over the meat.
Yield: 4 servings
Behind the Counter Have your butcher prepare the duck breasts, with the bone removed, but skin on. Alternate cuts frenched chicken breasts (-$)
Properly scoring and getting a good sear on the skin side of the duck breasts is the key to a well prepared duck breast.
Recipes: Poultry, Duck, Kosher