Category Archives: duck

Duck a l’Orange

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Readers know I’m a huge fan of duck and I’m so fortunate that it is both readily available and incredibly affordable here in Belgium.We actually don’t eat it all that often but when we do, it is always a huge hit. And once again, that was the case with my take on the ultimate duck recipe–duck a l’orange—which I adapted from  Bon Appetite .

Despite its fancy reputation, duck a l’orange is incredibly easy to make. The orang sauce can be made ahead of time then reheated before adding in the butter, orange zest and orange slices. And depending upon your preference, searing your duck breasts can be done in a matter of minutes. Just be sure to use a heavy skillet- I like to use my trust cast iron one– and start with a cold pan. This way you’ll get both a better sear and more delicious pan drippings.

For an extra special treat serve alongside duck fat roasted potatoes. After all, half of the reason for eating duck in my house is to make these potatoes with the drippings.

DUCK A L’ORANGE

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or other orange flavored liqueur

4 large oranges

2 1-pound boneless, skin on duck breast halves,

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup  unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

 

  • Stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Increase heat and boil until the syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling the pan,for about 8 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the vinegar (mixture will bubble vigorously).
  • Add the orange juice and shallots; boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
  • Add in the orange liqueur and return the syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Using a paring knife, cut off peel and white pith from the oranges.
  • Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. Set aside.
  • With a small knife, score the duck skin (do not pierce meat) in a crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle duck with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  • Place the duck, skin side down in a cold heavy skillet. Turn the temperature to medium low and render the fat, cooking the duck until the skin is brown and crisp, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Turn the duck and continue to cook until the meat is to your desired liking, about 10 minutes longer for medium-rare.
  • Transfer the duck to a cutting board and allow to stand for ten minutes before slicing. Save the rendered duck fat for another use.
  • Meanwhile, return the sauce to a simmer.
  • Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the grated orange peel, whisking just until the butter melts.
  • Drain the reserved orange segments and stir them into the sauce.
  • Arrange the sliced duck breast on a patter and spoon the orange slices and sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

 

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Duck & Pear Wontons 

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I recently found myself craving wontons and decided that the best way to find ones I liked was to make them myself. I had always been intimidated by the prospect of making these bite sized morsels but much to my surprise, and delight, while time consuming, they are incredibly easy to make.

As wontons are small items and you want to experience each of the flavors and ingredients in every bite, you want to make sure each of the ingredients is finely chopped. Never one to waste a delicious ingredient, I used my rendered duck fat as the oil for sautéing the remaining ingredients. If you don’t have duck fat you can substitute vegetable oil. (But I think that duck fat adds more flavor to the dish). Because the wontons taste best when they are freshly steamed, you can make them ahead of time then cook them when you are ready to eat.

And now that I’ve made them, they are sure to make a regular appearance in my kitchen. Simply put, they are delicious.

 

DUCK & PEAR WONTONS

2 skin-on duck breasts

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or duck fat)
2 pears, peeled cored, and diced small
1 cup Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2  cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
40  wonton skins

1/2 cup of your favorite soy or dipping sauce

  • Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in a cold cast iron skillet set over low heat.
  • Slowly render the fat off of the duck breasts until the meat is medium rare. Remove the duck from the pan and allow to cool.
  • Heat the duck fat in the skillet set over medium-high heat. If you don’t have enough fat add additional oil to total 2 tablespoons.
  • Add the diced pears, Chinese cabbage, garlic and green onion to the pan and saute for one minute.
  • Sprinkle the mixture with Chinese five spice mixture and cook for an additional minute.
  • Remove from the heat and add in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
  • When then the duck is cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the meat and dice the breast.
  • Add it to the cabbage mixture and stir well to combine.
  • Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place a small amount of the duck mixture in the center of each wrapper.
  • Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a small amount of water then bring the edges together to form a pocket, pinching the edges to seal.
  • Set aside and repeat until all of the wonton wrappers have been used.
  • Working in batches, (be careful not to crowd the wontons) steam the wontons in a steaming basket until the wontons are translucent. This should take about 4-5 minutes per batch.
  • Serve immediately dipped into your favorite sauce.

Yields: 40 wontons

 

Apple Kissed Duck Breasts

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Here’s an easy dinner to help you ease your way into fall. I love duck and love the fact that it is so readily available here in Belgium. Duck grills up quickly making it the perfect midweek meal. And when you add a fruity glaze the already flavorful duck becomes even better. I love using fruit preserves as a glaze; simply heat the preserves in the microwave and brush onto your meat and you have a deceptively easy topping.

For an extra special treat, serve the duck alongside some duck fat roasted potatoes. Yum!

APPLE KISSED DUCK BREASTS

2 duck breasts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup apple preserves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Lightly coat a grill with non-stick cooking spray and preheat to medium-high heat.
  • Score the fat side of the duck breasts in a grid pattern and sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper.
  • Combine the apple preserves and the garlic powder in a small microwave proof bowl. Heat on high for 1 minute.
  • Generously brush the apple and garlic glaze on the fatty side of the duck breast.
  • Place on the grill, scored side down, and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper on the top of the duck and brush with more of the apple glaze.
  • Flip the breasts over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Brush the remaining glaze onto the breasts then flip over and cook for an additional minute.
  • Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Slice across the grain and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Thai Red Curry w/ Duck

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Duck is so plentiful here in Belgium that it has been making a regular appearance on our dinner table since we arrived in the country. I’ve been marinading, grilling and roasting it (and making good use of the resulting delicious duck fat) but have recently been expanding my horizons and cooking the meat in different ways. We are also fans of curry at my house, in particular red curry, so this recipe, adapted from Saveur magazine seemed like a natural fit. And I was right.

Like most curries, the ingredients are simple and variable but the results are always packed with flavor in every bite. Here crisp pea pods, chunks of fresh pineapple and sweet grape tomatoes are simmered in a rich red curry ladened coconut milk. Basil–the Thai variety if you can find it–and kaffir lime leaves add complexity to the dish. (You can find kaffir lime leaves in most Asian markets or as I do, in the Asian section of my local grocery store). And of course there is the duck; other meats will work as well but the duck makes the dish taste that much more luxurious. And since the curry cooks up so quickly it makes for a perfect weeknight meal. Enjoy!

THAI RED CURRY w/ DUCK
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
1 pound duck breast, cut into bite sized pieces
10 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 cup fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1″ chunks
1 cup pea pods
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
6 Thai chiles, stemmed
20 grape tomatoes, halved
3 green onions, white part only
Leaves from 10 basil stems
  • Heat 1 cup of the coconut milk in a large pot over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk in the curry paste and continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is very aromatic, about 5 minutes more.
  • Add the duck to the curry mixture and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the duck is cooked through, about 7 minutes.
  • Add the remaining coconut milk, lime leaves, and 34 cup water.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring, until the flavors have melded, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the pineapple, pea pods, fish sauce, sugar, and chiles and continue to simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple is fork tender, about 5 minutes more.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, green onion and the basil and simmer the curry for 1 minute more; the tomatoes and basil should retain their shape and bright color.
  • Serve the curry with steamed jasmine rice.

 

Duck Breasts w/ Cider-Mustard Reduction

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Yes, more duck. Personally I love it and since it is so readily available it would be a shame not to cook it. Thus, duck breasts have become a regular protein on our dinner table. (If you aren’t a fan of duck, pork tenderloin is a perfect substitute for this dish). For me, not only is duck flavorful and quick to cook, the duck fat that is a byproduct of searing the meat opens up the possibility of making a variety of other delicious dishes.

This dish highlights some of my favorite “local” products. Of course there is the afore mentioned duck which but the sauce is inspired by two of my other favorite local specialities. Hard apple cider serves as the base of the reduction. I prefer dry cider from the Normandy region of France but any dry version will work well. While readily available Dijon mustard will add the punch you are looking for, I’m now a convert to Tierenteyn mustard which comes from Ghent. (Unfortunately, you must go to the shop to buy it yourself since they don’t ship. If you can’t get your hands on it, your favorite Dijon variety will produce the same results). To complete the winter comfort food theme, I like to serve the duck alongside spaetzel and garlic sauteed kale. I guarantee there won’t be any leftovers.

DUCK BREAST w/ CIDER-MUSTARD REDUCTION

2 boneless duck breasts, about 1 pound each

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup hard apple cider

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon Tierenteyn or Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

For the duck:

  • Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a grid pattern, taking care to not cut through the meat.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the duck breast with the salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • When ready to proceed, position an over rack to 3 inches below the heating elements and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place the duck breasts skin side down in a cold cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-low and render the fat until the skin is crispy and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain off the fat and reserve for another use.
  • Move the skillet to the oven and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare. (Cook longer if you prefer your meat more well done).
  • Flip the breasts and cook for an additional minute. To test for doneness, press the breasts, they will give slightly then bounce back.
  • Remove the duck from the oven, allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes then slice across the diagonal.

For the sauce:

  • Place the cider in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, cream, mustard and thyme. Cook for an additional minute until the sauce has heated through.
  • Serve over the sliced duck.

Serves 4

Gingered Duck Breast

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Duck is quickly becoming my favorite “go to” meal here in Belgium. Not only is it readily available but unlike in the United States, it is affordable, costly just a few pennies more than chicken and beef. So why not enjoy it while we can?

So here’s another easy recipe for duck breast that is deceptively easy yet packed full of flavor. The breasts themselves are simple enough and dusted with salt, pepper and garlic powder then cooked to a medium rare temperature. Because I have become slightly obsessed with cooking with duck fat, I like to render the fat before placing the breasts in the oven. If you prefer, you can skip this step and simply cook them a bit longer in the oven. For this dish, it is the sauce that adds the punch. Spicy fresh ginger is mixed with two types of orange–juice and marmalade to make a sweet yet tangy sauce. The red pepper flakes add extra zip so if you prefer, you can reduce the amount used or omit them entirely.

For the duck:

2 boneless whole duck breasts

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

For the sauce:

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a grid pattern, taking care to not cut through the meat.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the duck breast with the salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the marmalade, orange juice, ginger, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir well.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low, partially cover and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • When ready to proceed, position an over rack to 3 inches below the heating elements and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place the duck breasts skin side down in a cold cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-low and render the fat until the skin is crispy and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain off the fat and reserve for another use.
  • Move the skillet to the oven and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare. (Cook longer if you prefer your meat more well done).
  • Flip the breasts and cook for an additional minute. To test for doneness, press the breasts, they will give slightly then bounce back.
  • Remove the duck from the oven and slice across the diagonal.
  • Serve topped with the gingered orange sauce.

Serves 4

Sherry Marinated Duck Breast

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Here’s a recipe for duck inspired by allrecipes.com. Duck is one of my favorite meats and is incredibly versatile which makes it a fun food to cook with. This recipe produces a rich and flavorful dish and while it does involve a bit of planning ahead, actually requires minimal hands on time. You can marinate the duck first thing in the morning or even the night before you plan on cooking it then simply let it sit. The duck then sits in an herb infused bath of sherry. Be sure to use a good tasting sherry since the flavor is noticeable even after the alcohol cooks off.

Depending upon how much fat your duck has, you may end up with quite a bit of herb infused rendered duck fat. You can either use it as the base to saute some Brussels sprouts (as I did here) or you can save it for another dish…..perhaps some duck fat roasted potatoes. Add a starch, wild rice complements the dish nicely, and you have the perfect autumn dinner.

SHERRY MARINATED DUCK BREAST

2 duck breasts, skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 teaspoons basil

Salt & pepper

  • Using a sharp knife, score the fatty side of the duck breast into a grid pattern, cutting all of the way through the fat but not into the meat.
  • Combine the olive oil, sherry, brown sugar, oregano, rosemary and basil in a large sealable, non-reactive container. (A large plastic Ziploc tub works well).
  • Add the duck, fatty side down, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
  • When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove the duck from the marinade and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Set aside.
  • Pat the duck completely dry, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place fat side down, on a cold cast iron skillet.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the fat to render from the meat for about 5 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking for an additional to 4 minutes. The hash marks on the duck should have contracted into a crispy brown diamond pattern.
  • Drain the fat from the pan and reserve for another use.
  • Flip the duck breasts over and pace the skillet in the oven for about 10 minutes for medium-rare meat (130 degrees on a digital thermometer) or to your desired level of doneness.
  • Remove the duck to a cutting board and allow to rest for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • While the duck is resting, bring the reserved marinade to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the volume is reduced by half.
  • Serve topped with the marinade.

Serves 4

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