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Friday, February 11, 2011

Sweet and Sour Duck Breast

Hey all, this recipe is on my seared duck breast with a sweet and sour sauce.  Now, I love duck.  Duck confit, some seared duck breast, or roasted duck in the Asian butcheries... all amazing.  So I'm really excited to do this recipe for you guys today.  This is a very simple recipe that I made.  Duck is amazing with sweets.  Much like with a sweet chutney over the duck to go with its rich taste.  So I made sure to add some sweetness to the sauce.  I plated the duck breast over some beautiful butter-leaf lettuce to give it a freshness and crispness.  So amazing.

A few things to know if it's your first time cooking duck.  Duck's have two very different parts to it.  The legs and the breast.  Yes Darren, legs and breasts are different.  But I meant it in regards to cooking style.  Duck legs usually are cooked or braised into a confit because of the long cooking time required.  Or you'd want to make a duck ragu and simmer it over low heat for a while.  This is to break down the tough muscles it has.  Duck breast is quite the opposite.  In fact... treat it almost like a steak.  You want short cooking times and to cook it into a perfect medium.  Don't get all worked up because it's poultry and you think of salmonella from chickens and stuff.  It's not a chicken.  This is a duck.  So it's OK.  Now that you have the background, let's begin!

Ingredients for the duck:
2 (6-8oz) duck breasts, skin on!
S&P to taste

For the sweet and sour sauce:
1 cup rice vinegar
2 tbs tomato paste (I use ketchup)
2-3 tbs light brown sugar
1-2 tsp red chili flakes


1) Start scoring the skin of the duck.  This helps to render out the fat for the cooking process.  Score in 1 inch distances and DO NOT cut through the meat.  Only the fat!  You'll want a sharp knife to do this.

2) After scoring, preheat oven to 425 degrees and  liberally salt and pepper the breasts.  Be sure to get it inside that layer of fat as well as s&p'ing both sides.

3) You're going to want a nice stainless steel pan for this.  For two duck breasts a 10" was perfect.  Start the pan cold.  Yes, cold.  You do not need any oil either.

4) Place duck breasts, skin side down over the cold pan and turn heat up to high.  What this will do is render out the excess duck fat before the skin sears and seals it in.  Leave it skin side down for 5 minutes (I'm assuming you're using a gas stove.  Place pan on preheated electric stove if using electric.)
5) After 5 minutes, flip chicken breasts over and sear for another two minutes.  Once both sides have been seared, transfer duck breasts onto a baking tray and place onto the top shelf.  Let it heat up in the oven for 5 minutes.

6) Remove excess oil from pan.  Save the duck fat!  It's amazing with some roasted potatoes or almost any other application substituted for oil.

7) Deglaze the pan with the rice vinegar.  Let reduce a bit and combine the rest of the ingredients.  Reduce to desired consistency.  If it gets too thick, quickly add a bit more water.  Remember, when you remove it from the heat, the pan will still be hot and the sauce will be reduced even more.

8) After the duck has been cooked, let rest for 5 minutes.  This is important, much like a steak, to let the fat redistribute.  Otherwise you'll get a huge pool of fat when you slice the breast.  Slice duck into 1/2-3/4 inch slices.  Place over butter-leaf lettuce and spoon over sauce.  Serve with your favorite sides.

So this 15 minute recipe should be perfect for a weekday dinner; or the elegance of the plate can make this a special Valentine's Day dinner for your significant other.  So anyways, try it out, let me know what you think, comment, etc... and enjoy!