March 28, 2011

Duck with Apple-Cranberry Sauce

We don't eat duck very often.  Truth be told, Juli isn't very fond of it.  I rather like duck, but it's awful expensive.   Still, I enjoy cooking different sorts of things, so I decided to buy some duck breasts and cook them up.

I used a recipe from the current 30-Minute Suppers publication (Spring 2011) from America's Test Kitchen as a starting point.   That recipe is Pan-Seared Duck with Rhubarb-Cherry Sauce.   I wanted to make a different sort of sauce, though.

The technique is pretty simple, really.   First you score the duck skin a few times (being careful to not cut into the breast meat) to render the fat, then you sear them in a skillet, skin side down, until the skin is browned and crispy.  Then you transfer the duck to the oven to finish cooking while making the sauce.  It was fast and easy to make, and the results were tasty.   Juli still wasn't particularly impressed with the duck, but she had to admit the sauce was pretty good, while I liked the duck and the sauce.

The cranberries I used for the sauce came from the supply I put in the freezer back in November.   I like to stock up on cranberries and freeze them when you can get them fresh in season. 

I served this dish up along with some mashed sweet potatoes, taken from a sidebar recipe in the same issue of 30-Minute Suppers.  Sweet potatoes boiled tender, then mashed with some orange juice, a bit of molasses and some butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.... a darn good side I'm likely to revisit in the future.

Duck with Apple-Cranberry Sauce

yield = 4 servings

4            boneless duck breast halves, skin scored 3 times on diagonal
              salt and pepper to taste
1            large shallot, minced
1            tablespoon fresh, grated ginger
1            cup whole cranberries
1            Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and minced
2            teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/3         cup apple brandy
1/3         cup chicken broth
1/4         cup sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.    Pat duck breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.   Place breasts skin side down in a large skillet, then turn heat to medium-low and cook until the skin turns crisp and golden (abotu 8 minutes).  Transfer breasts, skin side up, to a foil-lined baking sheet and transfer to oven.  Roast until the duck is cooked through, about 12 minutes.  Traansfer to carving board and cover with foil.

Pour off most of the fat from the skillet (leave about 1 tablespoon).  Add shallot and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, then add the apples, cranberries and rosemary.  Cook until the apples start to brown a bit, then stir in the apple brandy and cook until it is reduced by half (about 1 minute).  Add chicken broth and sugar and cook until the cranberries have mostly burst and the sauce has thickened.   Serve each duck breast topped with some of the sauce, with more sauce on the side. 

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