Saturday, December 20, 2008
I have been going through a duck phase lately. It's gotten so bad that I have actually used the term "ducklicious" more than once in the past week. Clearly, I was thrilled to discover that Sobey's has duck products! I assume it is just for the holiday season, but in the freezer section, whole duck and duck breasts were available this past weekend (and possibly still) at the Sobey's in St. Albert. Usually I have to head down to the Sobey's Urban Fresh to get the duck breasts they bring in from Green Eggs and Ham, and that is a bit of a trek for me. Not only did I find these nearby, but the price ($4-7 depending on the size) was pretty reasonable. The ones shown in the pictures below were the $4 ones, so plenty large in size.
I served the duck with duck fat roasted potatoes (instructions in the previous duck post), and green beans in a dressing that I will post about in the future.
The first step in preparing the meal is to sear the skin side of the breasts. Start by scoring the skin so that when you sear it, the heat can get in and reduce the layer of fat between the skin and the meat. Heat up a skillet until it is very hot, and put the duck breasts in skin side down. Be very careful during this step not to burn yourself with splattering fat. It is like cooking bacon that way. Leave the breasts on the heat until they look crisp and golden. Take off the heat and place in a baking dish until you are about 10 minutes away from being finished dinner. Leave the fat in the skillet to roast the potatoes.
Prepare all your side dishes, and start on the glaze. The glaze is very quick seeing as it is thick enough that it does not require reduction. Thinly slice some shallots and caramelize them. You will need to combine equal parts plum jam, fig jam, whole grain mustard and the onions that you have caramelized. Once the shallots are done, add in the remaining parts and warm until it just barely simmers.
When you are 10 minutes from being ready to go with the rest of the dinner, throw the duck breast in to the oven at 400 F for 10 minutes. When it is ready, slice it into medallions, and top with the glaze. If you have left over glaze, it is also very nice on pork. As with a number of good pairings, the key here is having the sweet elements - caramelized onions, fig and plum - balanced by the tart mustard.
This dish is easy and fast, but it seems so sophisticated that people will think you slaved over it. For me, the best part is that you can prep it with the searing, and then just finish it later that day when the rest of your meal is almost done. It also looks great plated, so it is a good choice when you want to be fancy and plate dinner instead of serving it family style.