And if you are in need of a Valentine’s menu idea, or a just-because-I-want-to-get-fancy menu idea, let this be your meal.
I think we need a little backstory with this one, though. Dave and I are obsessed with duck and I’ve, for some inexplicable reason, avoided making it at home. (Although it might be because of that one time I roasted a whole duck for like 4 hours and ended up with burned dried-out duck… grr bad recipes!)Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do a duck breast recipe for a while so we skipped on over to our favorite butcher shop and ‘lo and behold, one can buy 2 duck breasts for $75 whole dollars!! So after catching our breath from skipping all the way to the store, coupled with the shock of that exorbitant price we scrounged around the store for other ideas. And then we saw that they were selling whole ducks for 25 dollars. None of this was making any sense to me, but we snagged the whole duck and I commenced with defrosting and attempting knife work that hasn’t been attempted since the dissection section of 9th grade biology.
But here we are- 2 duck breasts later and 2 duck legs awaiting their fate for my attempt at confit-ing. 2 meals for the price of a third of one meal? I will take that deal! Okay, so, I confess that I really have no idea how much most duck breasts go for, but I’m hoping you will be able to locate some duck in your life that isn’t $75 and also is not a whole duck. Because I’m aware my scalpel work is a little unusual. (P.s. Let me know if you have any recommendations).
Let’s talk recipe. So this recipe is a classic sear-and-bake technique to render the duck a perfect medium rare. The sauce is made completely separately and is actually quite easy once you get all the ingredients on hand- you start with a little shallot and garlic (my favorite combo) and add to that a little red wine, a little chicken stock, a little cherry jam, some balsamic vinegar, just a touch of sugar and the smallest dollop of mustard. And tart cherries of course. I had some leftover from my Michigan cherry-picking adventure last year, but you can find them in the frozen section of most supermarkets. I doubt this time of year you’ll be able to find any fresh, although that would be ideal.
I paired the duck with some duck-fat fried potatoes and a green salad. And we feasted on the best meal that I have eaten in a long, long time.
- 2 duck breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- ½ cup dry red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen pitted tart cherries
- 2 tablespoons cherry preserves
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a small saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and saute until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more- be careful not to burn.
- Add chicken stock, wine, preserves, cherries, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
- Simmer over medium heat until mixture reduces by half and cherries are softened.
- Whisk in dijon mustard and butter. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare duck breasts by scoring the fat (do not slice into the breast-meat). Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron (or other oven-safe) skillet over medium heat. Sear duck breasts, fat side down, for 6 minutes. Then flip and cook meat-side down for 1 minute more.
- Flip back to fat-side down. Cook in oven for 5-6 minutes for medium rare.
- Remove from oven and rest on a separate plate for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Serve with cherry sauce.