Since I started doing recipes on Braised Blue, I have done my best to really keep things simple and explanatory. Today’s Recipe is the hardest one I’ve ever posted as it brings together a number of different components, ingredients and techniques. The flavour profile is a play on a few classic french duck dishes by pairing the duck with a sweet and sour element and also a earthy element. With this in mind, it’s also one of the best things I’ve ever made, and though it seems like a lot. It actually only took me about an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish.
Duck is an amazing ingredient. It’s rich, it’s flavourful, and it’s actually pretty healthy if prepared properly. Duck is also a really difficult ingredient to work with because it is unforgiving, fatty and cooking it takes a lot of patience and timing. If you were so inclined with this dish you could substitute venison, elk, or even a nice beer tenderloin and the flavours would still work together. But there is one great thing with working with duck….Duck Fat. Duck fat is the richest, darkest, and most aromatic substances known to man. When you make duck breasts you get a lot of duck fat that you can save and use in your cooking for the next few months. Bacon drippings get the hell out of the way, duck has entered the room.
Part 1. The Duck
Duck Breasts (The skin should remain on and should be deeply scored in a checker board pattern)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Make sure to score the skin of the duck in a checker board pattern this will allow the thick layer of fat which resides beneath the skin to render more quickly. It will also allow the skin to crisp much better. Use the salt, cinnamon, and cayenne to coat both sides of the duck. In a very hot cast iron skillet the breasts should be placed skin down. The pan needs to be screaming hot to really crisp the skin and render the fat. Don’t be afraid there is enough fat there so that it shouldn’t burn. The rendering should take about four to six minutes. Once the skin is crispy and the breasts have released their fat. Turn the breasts and sear the skinless side. This should take about two minutes.* Then remove the duck from the pan and place on paper towels to rest. Pour off the duck fat into a container, and in the same cast iron skillet place the breasts back into the pan skin side up. Then place in the over. The breasts should roast for about 8-10 minutes, I like my duck medium-rare but there is no shame in liking your poultry totally cooked through. After they roast remove the skillet and let the breasts rest for about five minutes.
Part 2: The Gastrique:
1 cup Blueberries(fresh if possible)
1 tbs butter
Directions: Place your blueberries in a sauce pan on medium/low heat. Add a tiny bit of water, the salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon. Simmer these together until the berries begin to break down. Deglaze with the balsamic and then add enough to cover the berries. Reduce by half, add butter, simmer for about five minutes remove from heat and cover.
Part 3: The Crostini
1.5 Cups of chanterelle mushrooms
2- Green Onions(Finely chopped)
Directions: Use your reserved duck fat in a pan on medium/low heat add your garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for about five minutes letting the mushrooms really absorb the duck fat. Then brush the hot duck fat onto your bread which should be ready on a baking sheet. Top the bread with the mushrooms and garlic. Liberally, microplane the parmigiano reggiano onto the mushrooms and bread. Place in oven on a high broil for about three minutes. The bread should crisp, the cheese should become one with the mushrooms. Remove from the oven and top with the raw green onion and some course sea salt.
Part 4: Bringing it all together.
This should all be served as one dish along side a simple tomato, onion and cucumber salad with a simple vinaigrette. The gastric and macerated blueberries should be used to top your duck. The crostini should be eaten with the dish as well**. And it should all really just work in harmony together. Try your best to get the blue berries into every bite of duck as it really cuts through the richness of the meat with nice acid, spice and sweetness. Enjoy!
*It is very important to always flip away from you there will be quite a bit of fat that will have collected by now and if it was to splash while you flipped the meat. The splash should not be towards yourself. I’ve learned and relearned this rule in the past and I would recommend not learning it for yourself.
**As you eat try combining the different flavours. You will see that everything really plays off everything else. The cinnamon and spice ties the duck to the blueberries. The duck fat in the mushrooms and bread connects it to the duck and the sweetness and tartness from the blueberries works with the deep earthiness from the mushrooms.