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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Friday, August 17, 2012

Duck Breast with Blueberry Sauce

My husband loves duck. It is his absolute favourite protein.  He also loves blueberries. They are his favourite fruit.  So for a special treat, with blueberries in season, I looked for a way to combine those flavours.  This recipe was a hit!

You'll need 1/4 cup sugar, 2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup mixed dried fruit and 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger.

The recipe didn't specify what kind of dried fruit. You could use apricots, cherries or even dried blueberries if you can get them. I used what I had - dates, raisins and dried cranberries.

You need to make the sauce first because it takes a while and needs to sit to meld the flavours. This is an unusual process that involves making a caramel.  Stir sugar with 2 tbsp water over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Then increase heat and boil without stirring for 8 minutes until you see a deep amber colour.

You can swirl the pan and brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush if you need to.

Add balsamic vinegar to the hot sugar, then add chicken broth and stir to combine and simmer for 20 minutes until reduced to about 1 cup.  I found the caramel started sticking to the bottom at this point and I scraped it with a whisk to blend it together and re-melt the sugar.

Once the sauce is reduced, remove from heat. Add the fresh blueberries, ginger and chopped dried fruit. Set aside to cool and steep for 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, prepare the duck breasts.  Score the skin with a sharp knife.  You want to cut only the skin, not the meat. This helps the fat render out of the breast while cooking.

Coarsely grind 4 teaspoons peppercorns.  This is a lot of pepper but it'll create a lovely crust. 

Sprinkle with salt then cover the skin side of the duck generously with the cracked peppercorns.  This is not enough.

That's better.

Heat a dry, heavy metal pan over medium high heat.  Not a non-stick pan.

Add the duck, skin side down.  Cook 10 to 15 minutes until skin is golden and crisp.

Flip the duck over and cook another 10 minutes until done.  See all the fat in the pan from the skin?  It's a good idea to have the exhaust fan on while cooking the duck. It'll get a little smokey.  

Once done, remove from pan and rest about 10 minutes, covered with foil.

While it is resting, rewarm the sauce.  I also used an immersion blender to blend it a bit so it would be a little smoother.  Season it with salt and pepper.  

Slice the duck breasts.  You want it to be medium rare to medium.

Drizzle the sauce over the duck.  I served this with a wild rice blend and braised baby squash.  

For an extremely happy husband, you can also serve with blueberry craft beer.

The sauce was a delicious compliment to the duck.  This meal takes a little effort but it's not too hard to make and the results are worth it.  

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