A couple weeks back while organizing our freezer (I made turkey stock and had a lot to freeze!), I came across a couple of duck breasts we have had saved for the perfect recipe. These were wild duck breasts, boneless and skinless, so they required a recipe that wouldn’t rely on the duck fat and skin that you get on store bought duck.
After our goal of trying new recipes from all the cookbooks we own, D came across a great looking duck recipe that fit the bill for an early spring Sunday evening dinner, so we tried it out. In preparation for some money spent on vacay and home improvement, we’re trying to make use of all the food and ingredients we already have around the kitchen, so this fit the bill for that as well. We just had to supplement with a few fresh ingredients, and off i went!
The cookbook? Best of the best cookbook recipes from the editor of Food and Wine magazine (a very nice gift D received this Christmas). This recipe was from the section devoted to Meditteranean Fresh by Joyce Goldstein (the other of her recipes in this Best of the best book also look DELICIOUS!).
My favorite part of this recipe is the introductory statement which says “More cooks should try duck instead of the usual chicken”. I couldn’t agree more. I try to order duck often on restaurant menus, because it is rich and flavorful without the heaviness of many beef and lamb dishes.
This recipe was light and crisp, and the flavors were unique and lively. Highly recommended.
Duck Breast with Pears, Walnuts, and Belgian Endive
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar (I used red wine vinegar since it was in the cupboard)
1/3 c fresh orange juice
2 tbsp freshly grated orange zest
1/3 c toasted hazelnut oil (I used sesame, again, in the cupboard)
2/3 c extra virgin olive oil
2 boneless duck breast halves 4-5 oz. each
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of ground cinnamon or cloves (recipe says options, in my opinion, not, this made all the difference in combination of flavors!)
4 tbsp walnuts toasted and coarsely chopped
2 or 3 heads belgian endive, leaves seperated and cut crosswise into 1″ wide pieces
1 head chicory, leaves seperated (we couldn’t find this at the store, so i skipped it, but it probably would be yum!)
2 small anjoy pears, halved, cored, and sliced
Make the vinaigrete.
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Make the Duck
Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck breasts in a crosshatch pattern, but do not cut into the meat. Rub the breasts with salt and pepper and a pinch of cinnamon, if you like. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook until the breasts render their fat, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off the fat and slip the pan into the oven. Roast the duck for about 8 minutes for medium-rare. (If you like, you can finish the breasts on the stovetop, reducing the heat to low and sautéing, turning once, for 8 to 10 minutes.) Transfer the duck to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. When the duck is cool enough to handle, cut it on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
In a small bowl. macerate the nuts in 1 tablespoon dressing.
In a bowl, combine the Belgian endive and chicory. Sprinkle with salt to taste and toss with 1/4 cup dressing. Arrange on 4 salad plates. Top with slices of duck and pear and drizzle with another 1/4 cup of the the dressing (reserve the remaining dressing for another use). Sprinkle the nuts on top and serve.