Sauteed duck breast with gingered grape sauce
Published: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 3:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 3:35 p.m.
Duck and fruit are a classic combination, Sara Moulton writes in "Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals" (Broadway, 2005, $29.95) - humans having long ago figured out that the acid in oranges, apples or pears acts as a great counterbalance to the richness of the duck.
Moulton uses grapes in the following easy but sophisticated recipe from the book, pairing duck breasts with grapes and ginger. She points out that duck breast can be quite lean and not at all gamey. She suggests cooking it with the skin on for better flavor and to prevent its drying out (if you want to avoid the extra fat, just remove the skin before serving), and she says cooking the duck medium-rare will give you maximum juiciness.
The book is a collection of 200 recipes "for quick and easy dinners," and it's a pleasure to use. The recipes are varied and creative, the book is distinguished by its elegantly simple design and fine color photos. Above all, there is Moulton's helpful voice to guide you, complementing the recipe texts with an engaging flow of information and comment.
Sauteed Duck Breast With Gingered Grape Sauce
(Total preparation time 30 minutes)
4 Pekin duck breast halves
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 cup seedless grapes, halved, plus 4 small bunches for garnish
3 large shallots or 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon currant jelly
Score the duck skin in a crosswise pattern and season the duck with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat until hot. Add the duck, skin side down, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the skin is very crispy. Periodically remove and reserve any excess fat that the duck gives off. Turn the duck over and let it cook for 3 more minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate, skin side up, and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved duck fat to the skillet. Heat over high heat until hot; reduce the heat to medium and add the halved grapes, shallots and ginger to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes; add the vinegar and let it simmer until reduced by half. Add the broth, mustard and jelly, and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add any juices that have accumulated on the duck plate and salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the duck at an angle into 1/4-inch slices and serve each portion topped with some of the sauce. Garnish each with a small bunch of grapes.
Makes 4 servings.
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