Winter Duck Dinner

26 02 2008

Having a fridge full of market-fresh produce almost forces you to cook with the seasons.  (Even if said fridge is the size of what we Americans refer to as a “dorm-room fridge.”)  Yesterday I was digging through ours in search of an inspiration for dinner.  I hit on the Brussels sprouts and an idea began to form.  Brussels sprout hash with caramelized onions, some of that 3-rice blend, and… what for protein?  The answer, as it often is these days, was duck.  Maybe I’m enamored with the fact that I can buy duck in forms other than whole and frozen here.  Who cares if I can’t figure out the difference between a magret and a filet de canard?  As far as I can tell, they both mean boneless, skin-on duck breast.  Regardless of the name, I bought one at the supermarket (yes, the regular supermarket) and brought it home.

It was about this time that I remembered my cooking arsenal is not what it used to be.  That is to say, I really only have one pan suitable for cooking larger items.  So I julienned three onions and started them caramelizing in some butter.  When they were nice and dark I moved them to a bowl and put the pan on a cold burner so I could get the rice cooking on the hot one.  (Our stove is basically a set of hot plates.  This not at all uncommon in France.)  This turned out to be extremely beneficial for the duck skin, as I started it in a mostly cold pan and heated it slowly which resulted in almost complete rendering of the fat and nicely crisped skin.

Duck Skin

In addition to the deliciously golden skin, just look at all that extra duck fat for me to cook with!  I removed the duck to a plate, poured off half the fat to use for the pan sauce, and threw in the entire half-kilo of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced.  By now the pan was smoking hot, so the Brussels sprouts cooked quickly with lots of tasty browned spots.  I seasoned them with salt and pepper and added the caramelized onions back to the pan.  A few tosses to combine, then I moved that to another plate and put it on top of the “oven” to keep warm.

Now for the sauce.  With the pan still screaming hot, I poured in the reserved duck fat and added some minced shallots and fresh thyme.  When the shallots began to brown I poured in some Bordeaux and let it reduce a bit.  Next a few tablespoons of cherry preserves (confiture cerises griottes), a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and monter au beurre.  Plate it up and we have a delicious, seasonally appropriate, one-pan (except for the rice) meal.

Duck Dinner

I served it with the remaining Bordeaux (obviously!) and a dessert from Fauchon… but that’s tomorrow’s post.

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