This ain’t no Skagit Valley mud flat duck! My first experience with duck was when some friends of mine from high school went hunting then baked it in a loaf pan. It looked like meat loaf and had ketchup poured over the top. It tasted like yuck, therefore I thought that I hated duck. Come to find out I hate ducks from the mudflats of the Skagit River, they taste like mud and possibly buckshot, and cooked by young men whose culinary talents had not yet been developed. If you are interested in duck, do a little research and find a good source (or a hunter with good taste).
Crisp duck breast with a bright cabbage salad. This is the first successful attempt at duck I have had. I am very pleased with myself so far I have made a batch of liquid gold (ie.duck fat) and this crisp duck breast on a bed of shaved cabbage, fennel and radish.
Recipe for a crisp duck breast
- 1-2 breasts per person depending on meal type (here as a small dish 1 is enough for 2 people)
- a very sharp knife
- coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper
Make sure that the breasts are very cold. Then with the very sharp knife make careful SHALLOW slits in the skin. Make them close together across the entire piece, then turn 90° and make more slits in the opposite direction this will create the crisscross pattern. The idea here is to pierce the skin of the duck but not cut down to the meat. When the skin in cut into a small cross hatch over the entire surface the fat will escape resulting in a very crisp and not greasy piece of meat.
Rub some of the salt and pepper into the meat and place in a dish and cover. Refrigerate for at least and hour but up to 12 hours. Rince the salt off. Dry thoroughly with paper towels.
Heat a heavy bottom pan (I like cast iron) over moderate-low heat. Lightly grease the pan, the duck will give off a lot of oil so just enough to keep it from sticking. Cook it skin down on low heat for about 15 minutes. Until the fat has been released and the skin is starting to crisp. Drain off the fat (keep it for another use, like roasted potatoes). When the skin is just starting to get a little color, crank up the heat to medium, turn over to the flesh side of the meat. Cook for just a few minutes. Duck should be served medium-rare, it is not chicken! When that side has a good color, turn back to the skin side and cook another minute to get a crisp browned skin. Remove from the pan and let rest skin side up for a few minutes to let the juices redistribute and not run all over when you cut into it.
When you are ready to serve it, slice it thinly and serve with this great salad, or what ever you desire.
Shaved Winter Salad
- 1/2 small head of cabbage
- 1/2 small onion
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 bulb of fennel or anise
- 2-3 red radishes (red for color, but any will do)
- 2 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced (dark green part only)
- handful of basil leaves
- apple cider vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and plenty fresh cracked black pepper
Finely cut, or shave with a mandoline or knife, the cabbage. Put in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with a teaspoon of kosher salt. Let it sit while you prepare the rest. The longer the salt has to extract the moisture from the cabbage the crunchier it will be, also it will not leak into the salad and make it runny.
Continue to finely slice or shave with a mandoline the onion, carrot, fennel, and radish. In a large bowl or salad bowl add the onions and drizzle with 2 Tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Toss. Add the remaining veggies as they are prepped. Taste, to see if there is enough salt. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Stir well. Taste, it should be a little sharp, but not too sharp. Add more vinegar or oil as needed to get the results you desire.
Rinse the cabbage and spin dry in a salad spinner or squeeze dry using a kitchen towel. Add to the salad and toss well. Taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Just before serving add the scallions and basil leaves.
**To make this Asian inspired, replace the cider vinegar with rice wine vinegar, the oil with a more neutral one (such as canola or grapeseed) and use Thai basil or cilantro instead and a pinch of sugar. You can also add sliced almonds.