My favorite no-fuss totally satisfying meal is duck breast. It requires barely any ingredients and turns out reliably great every time. I have played with the toppings (like pomegranate seeds, port reduction and crispy shallots, pictured here), but I think the best is with just a schmear of pomegranate or date molasses (these are molasses are made from the refined fruit sugar and are not regular molasses that are flavored with fruit). I used to cook duck breast on higher heat for 10 mins, but an episode of Anne Burrell, convinced me to try it low and slow. So much better! Cooked fast on high heat, the fat cap is chewy and not appealing to eat. When cooked on lower heat, more fat renders out, it becomes crispy and the molasses makes it like this awesome piece of candied bacon on your duck. Amazing. Also– useful for you to know– if you haven’t made duck before, duck is cooked like a red meat- medium-rare– and not all the way through like chicken.
Duck breasts (1 or 2)
Pomegranate or Date molasses
salt & pepper
Take duck breasts. Wash and pat dry. There is a big fat cap on top of breasts. Take a knife, and score (deeply, but not all the way down to the flesh) a cross-hatch pattern. Salt generously (I like kosher salt and big flaky maldon). Place duck fat side down in stainless steel skillet over medium-low heat. Cook for about 20-25 minutes (i do 20 mins) and fat will render out. Ladle out fat if a lot collects– and save it! This shit is pure gold. Flip over to brown on bottom (2-3) mins, while this is happening, take about a tablespoon of molasses and pour on fat cap side. Smear with a pastry brush or back of a spoon. Flip back over, skin side down for another minute or so for molasses to crystallize. Remove from heat, put on a plate and tent with tin foil. Let rest (necessary!) for 10 minutes. Cut on a diagonal and serve. Pour duck juices from plate back over top. [this makes medium-rare. if you like more cooked, take more time, but it tastes best this way]
Optional port/red wine reduction
red wine or port
pomegranate seeds (optional)
Pour out fat and save. You still have all this goodness stuck to the bottom of your pan. Away from heat, add a cup of red wine or port. And cook for a few minutes over med. heat for it to thicken a bit like syrup. Be careful, it can soon turn to hard/sticky like candy- this happened last night- so I just ditched it and ate w. out the reduction. Add duck juices from plate back in. Off heat, add pomegranate seeds if using. Even if not eating/mess up the reduction, wine is great because it deglazes the pan- which helps with clean up. I always keep unfinished bottles in the fridge, even when past drinkable, for this purpose.
Crispy Fried Shallots
Delicious for topping a piece of duck, lamb, steak. Anne Burrell also using as a butternut squash soup topping.
At first, I attempted to fry in duck fat but didn’t have quite enough so ended up doing it the traditional way.
Very thinly slice the shallots into rings. Separate all the rings out from each other. Using a small saucepan, fill about half an inch of oil. Heat on high. You know it is hot enough, when you drop one shallot in and it sizzles away. Put a little bit of flour into a bowl. Quickly douse a handful of shallots in the flour, shake off, and throw into oil. You don’t want to let it sit in the flour- so flour as you go and be quick. Add floured shallots into hot oil. Cook until brown and crispy- floating to the top. Remove with slotted spoon- and place on paper towels to cool.