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Keeping abreast of trends | Manolo's Food Blog

Keeping abreast of trends

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Years ago duck was only available either in fancy restaurants or as a whole bird you ordered ahead of time from the butcher. Today most butchers carry vacuum sealed duck breast such as those prepared by D’Artagnan.

Unlike chicken or turkey, duck can be eaten rare. Like other fowl, its fats are found chiefly in the skin, but even after the skin is removed duck meat maintains the best of its flavor.

Indeed, duck is the perfect summer entrée – intense, toothsome, flavorful, but not terribly fatty.

Slice the breast over a salad of mixed greens with a side of string beans and new potatoes. Balsamic vinegar goes very well, or spiced marmalades. If you don’t mind firing the oven for a bit, try roasting diced potatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini, or anything else in the market. Let cool, mix with chopped green salad, and toss with a vinaigrette. Pair with a burgundy.

At the dZong house Mary served duck breast with sautéed swiss chard, mache salad, and roasted rhubarb (with ginger and stock), all fresh from the garden. As an appetizer sautéed with a shallot were crostini of black trumpet chanterelles collected in the Catskills woods.

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Duck half breast comes with one side skinned. A thick layer of fat covers the other side, and this layer becomes your friend in the pan or under the grill. Pan sautéing is the easiest for this household because the Henry range has a fan that ventilates outdoors.

Eight minutes with the fat side down yields a dark brown layer of pure flavor. Be sure to score the fat beforehand so that more of it touches the skillet surface. When you turn to brown the meat side you may find your pan too deep in fat. Mr. Henry likes to skim along the way and save the fat for frying potatoes.paro-dzong.jpg

Now your pan is perfectly hot, its surface covered in duck fat, the finest of frying oils. Brown the meat for a few minutes more, or finish in the oven if you prefer. Remove and let rest a good ten minutes. Mr. Henry prefers the texture of duck breast at room temperature.

The whole affair is incredibly quick, easy and painless. It’s no wonder restaurant menus are dotted with duck breast preparations.

3 Responses to “Keeping abreast of trends”

  1. teteatete July 15, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Mr. Henry,

    When you say score the fat of the duck breast, do you just score a single line or do you sort of butterfly it open a bit for more surface area contact? For some reason I’m having trouble picturing what you mean here. Or maybe as it gets hot and renders, the scoring allows for it to coat the pan?

    I think I need more coffee as my mental faculties seem somewhat dimmed at the moment.

  2. Mr. Henry July 15, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Dear teteatete,

    You should slice cross-hatched lines as closely together as possible to a depth of half your fat. Don’t cut all the way down to the meat. You will be left with a thick layer of browned crust, a true gustatory delight for those with healthy gall bladder function.

    Although the pan will sputter and spit, because the meat is riding on a fatty cushion it won’t overcook. If you want to save some duck fat for seriously wonderful fried potatoes, spoon it out as it is rendered.

  3. raincoaster July 21, 2009 at 4:44 am #

    I LOVE duck, and it’s often cheaper than chicken where I live, but WHY do I always read this blog at like four in the morning, when nothing around here is open?