Friday, November 4, 2011

Simply and Perfectly Cooked Duck Breasts, for French Fridays with Dorie

I've only prepared duck a few times at home, but it's one of my favorites to order when I see it on a restaurant menu, especially when served with a cherry and/or port sauce. This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Twenty-Minute Honey-Glazed Duck Breasts, was certainly one I didn't want to miss.

Dorie writes an entire page about the basics of the breasts from Moulard ducks, called Magret de Canard.  The Moulard Duck is a cross between a Muscovy drake and a Pekin hen. Magret refers to the breast of a Moulard duck that has been reared for foie gras, and it provides moist, red, meaty flesh with rich flavor. Since Gascony, France is the heart of foie gras country, the Moulard duck is common in the cooking of the region.

Moulard Duck

Muscovy duck, sometimes called Barbarie or Barbary duck, is thin-skinned, low in fat, and has deep red, mildly gamy meat which is sometimes compared to roast beef for its flavor, and veal for its tenderness.  The carcass of a Muscovy duck is heavier than most other domestic ducks, and has a larger breast that its Pekin counterpart, with up to 40% less fat than that breed. Europeans have been enjoying the Muscovy duck meat for a long time, and the popularity of this duck is growing in the United States.

Muscovy Duck

Dorie recommends Moulard duck breasts for this recipe, which are more "succulent."  One of San Diego's best meat markets, Iowa Meat Farms, carries both Moulard and Muscovy breasts.  A package containing two Moulard breasts, weighing about 1/2 pound each, runs about $15.00.  Quite a bit more than a couple of chicken breasts, but a nice treat once in a while.

Two Moulard Duck Breasts, about 1/2 lb. each

I absolutely loved Dorie's method in cooking the duck breasts to perfection.  However, I didn't love the sauce, which was balsamic vinegar, honey, juice of a lime, and the accumulated juices in the foil (all but a tablespoon of the rendered duck fat is removed from the pan before making the pan sauce).  

Perfectly Cooked Duck Breasts
Slightly adapted from Around My French Table

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  To prepare duck breasts, trim away excess fat that extends beyond the edge of the meat if necessary. Then score the fat side, season with salt and pepper, and place skin side down in a hot cast iron pan. No fat or oil is needed. Cook for about 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and flip the breast over, cooking for about 3 minutes. Make sure the duck is not cooked beyond medium rare. Wrap the breasts loosely in foil and place in the warm oven to rest for about five minutes.  Slice into 1/2-inch thick slices and serve.

I served our duck with steamed asparagus and a gourmet rice blend of wild and white rice, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds.

Dorie's recipe is available on D'Artagnan, where you will find a few more duck recipes (including one with cherry sauce) and all kinds of gourmet food products and organic meats.


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!


Cher said...

Denise - it looks beautiful!
Hope your pirate themed Halloweed party went well.

Nana said...

Good thing I didn't see those duck pictures or I could
never eat it. They are so cute. Yours turn out so
delicious looking. Tricia and I both enjoyed this and hope to make it again. I enjoyed reading about ducks,
very informative.

Lizzy said...

Your photos are amazing! Your duck looks perfect~

tricia s. said...

I am so late in posting this comment but very much enjoyed reading all you info about the ducks- thx for sharing. Nana found our so I did zilch reserach :) Gorgeous shots -as usual!

Sis. Boom. said...

This looks just perfect. Why not the sauce? Was it the balsamic? I made this a second time already with sherry vinegar and found it quite pleasing and really allowed the duck flavor to go front and center.