I have to admit I am not a bird (eating) person. Not that I don’t like fowl, but I find the conditions of intensive chicken farming appalling, health threatening and generally sad (for more enlightenment check also here). We only ever eat organic eggs and the occasional free-ranging chicken.
The second obstacle is that I don’t have a guinea pig. I mean, my better half – who is the principal judge and victim of my gastronomic experiments – does not like food with small bones. This excludes birds and fish on the bone from our family meals, unless I eat it all by myself. Not practical.
Duck breast is a perfect compromise, not only it’s virtually boneless, but it’s intensely flavorful and surprisingly easy to make. This is my foolproof recipe based on a classic French sweet and sour marinade. I have twisted it with Italian ingredients and herbs and I must say it is rather lovely.
- one 1/2 kg (1 lb) duck breast with skin
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- Juice of 1/2 lemon or of 1 orange
- 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoon red wine
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin live oil
In a bowl large enough to fit the breast snugly, mix the marinade ingredients, add the garlic cloves and whole rosemary sprigs. Place the duck breast in the marinade skin side up, cover and marinade in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove the duck breast from the marinade, pat dry and transfer skin side down into a heavy pan, better if cast iron. Reserve the marinade.
Cook the breast on low heat for at least 5 min. Be patient as the duck fat renders out slowly melting onto the bottom of the pan. This is the most important phase of the cooking by which you get lovely crispy skin. If the skin burns too soon the breast will taste fatty and rubbery.
When the skin turns golden, remove the breast, quickly drip away the fat and wipe the pan with kitchen paper. Now you need to be fast. Bring the heat to high, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sear the skinless side of the breast all over until slightly brown, about 2 min. Pour the marinade in the pan and reduce, it will take less than 1/2 min.
Remove the pan from heat but leave it on the stove, cover with a lid and 1 or 2 folded kitchen towels. You want to keep the pan as warm as possible. The breast will finish to cook with the indirect heat of the pan and will keep wonderfully moist. Wait for 5- 10 min, then slice thinly and serve.
1 breast with a side of vegetables and roast potatoes feeds 4 modest meat eaters.