Pan Seared Duck Breast with Brussels Sprouts and Stone Fruit sauce (1-1.5 Hours Total Cook Time)

Quick Overview: Two servings probably unless you really try to stretch it.

Quick note: apologies for not posting anything for a while.  I’ve had quite a lot of stuff happen recently that’s been keeping my busy (nothing bad I promise).

Truth be told this recipe came to me as I was walking through the grocery store the day before Christmas Eve.  I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to eat that day and I ended up walking by the butcher’s section and saw a long package of two duck breasts and an idea came to mind.

I’ve never actually worked with duck breast before; I know what to do with it in theory but I’ve never actually cooked duck breast on my own in my life before, but as I thought through it a recipe began to form and that’s how I ended up cooking duck for the first time,

Duck is a very rich in flavors.  On its own, even with just a bit of salt and pepper, duck will impart a very rich and a wonderful fattiness to it so you don’t want to overwhelm it with spices.  However I needed something to cut through the richness of the duck.  I was thinking either radicchio or arugula but then I decided I needed something more hearty so I opted for the brussels sprouts.  However, the sprouts and the duck on their own didn’t feel very well connected to one another which is why I decided to make a sauce out of raspberry, dried cherries, balsamic vinegar, and red wine to help balance out the two distinct flavors.

The sweetness of the sauce helps temper the natural bitterness of the sprouts while also helping mellow out the richness of the duck so that the two ingredients could come together as a singular cohesive dish.  At least that’s how I imagined it.  You should let me know if you agree if you end up making this.

Ingredients:

  • Duck Breast (the two breasts you see here were about one pound)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Handful of Garlic
  • Box of raspberries
  • Box of dried cherries
  • Red Wine (I went with a spanish red that was less sweet and more full-bodied as the raspberries and dried cherries already bring a lot of sugar to the table)
  • Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Smoked Paprika, Rosemary

Recipe: 

  1. Get some paper towels or a cloth and pat your duck breast dry.  We want this duck breast to be as dry as possible in order to insure good contact with the pan.
  2. Score the duck breast.  To do this properly you will need a very sharp knife.  To score the duck you are going to cut across the skin on the duck with each cut being about 1 inch (~2.5cm) apart from one another; avoid cutting in too deep.  What you’re looking for here are cuts that penetrate the skin, but not the flesh itself.  What this does is allow for the heat to penetrate through the skin when you cook the duck which helps us render the duck fat.  I forgot to take a picture of this but if you google it you can find some images of what it should look like.  You will want to do this while the duck breasts are cold.

    So I kind of lied, I did take a picture but I took it after I had season the duck breast so you can’t really see the scoring clearly but hopefully this gives you a good idea of what it looks like.
  3. Heat up a pan on low heat – do not oil this pan – we don’t want to cook the duck breast under high heat.  What we’re looking to do here is cook the duck breast slowly so that we can render as much fat as possible without overcooking the duck breast.  This entire process will take the better part of half an hour if done properly.  Pre-heat an oven to 400 degrees as well while you do this.
  4. Season the duck breast with smoked paprika, salt, pepper.  Once done, place the duck breast skin-side down on the pan.

    I really hate the new wordpress posting templates. They're far less user friendly than the older one I was used to.
    Don’t forget to season the other side of the duck breast!
  5. While your duck breast cooks, start prepping your brussels sprouts.  Give them a quick rinse and then proceed with cutting them in half.
  6. If you’re fast, you’ll have some time to mince your garlic before you’ve finished rending the fat on your duck.  If not, no worries.  Quickly drain the fat that’s accumulated in your pan.  Save it for later.  Once you’ve done that, heat op your pan and sear the duck on high heat for one minute skin-side up.  Following this put the duck in the oven for 7-9 minutes.
  7. Using the rendered fat, toss the garlic into the pan you just cooked the duck in and cook until it begins to become fragrant.  Toss in the raspberries, dried cherries, red wine, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Season with rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Be careful not to add too much salt as the sauce should be naturally semi-sweet.  Bring this mixture to a boil and allow it to thicken.  Don’t forget about your duck! 
  8. Once the duck has finished roasting in the oven, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool.  Do not cut it yet.

    A bit bloody and the skin could be crispier but it turned out alright in my opinion for a first attempt.
  9. Once your sauce has sufficiently thickened, remove a portion of it for dressing the duck.  The rest of it should be used for the sprouts.  Your pan should still be oiled enough from the duck fat, if not add a small amount of oil and roast the sprouts under high heat for 10-15 minutes or until they’ve caramelized with occasional stirring.
  10. Put it all together on a plate now.  I chose to make some preserved lemon risotto with lentils to pair with this meal as I felt the addition of a starch would help make the meal more hearty, however that’s entirely up to you.  The risotto I used was a ready to go mix where all you needed to do was add water.  I used chicken stock and added some shredded Romano and Parmesan cheese and some lentils but besides that I didn’t do much else.
  11. Enjoy!

    This new wordpress posting system really sucks (that or I just haven’t learned all its ins and outs yet)

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