Duck Season!

I’ve been itching to try my hand at frying duck breasts for a while now. You don’t really get that sort of meat fresh in Finland without ordering it beforehand… but you do get it frozen at some “better” stores. Instead of the usual Finnish Christmas ham, my mum and I opted for duck breast this year. And I experimented with some nice sauces to go with it, too.

This was our Christmas Eve main course: Duck Breast in Port and Cherry Sauce with Fennel and Orange Salad (and potato slices fried in excess duck fat).

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Pray, how do you cook up the perfect rosé duck breast, I hear you inquire. Well, it be this simple:

If using a fozen duck breast, defrost it first. Then, proceed.

1. Pop your oven on to heat up to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Take a nice, sharp knife and cut the fat side of the duck breast into a criss-cross pattern. Like so.

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3. Turn the duck breast over and smear salt and pepper onto just the one side.

4. Heat up a frying pan up to medium heat and place your duck breast on the pan, fat-side down. You will soon see the fat beginning to ooze out of the duck onto the pan. There’s going to be lots of it. Let the fat-side fry for about 6 minutes until it has a nice colour and most of the fat has melted.

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5. Turn the duck breast over and let it fry for only about 1 minute. (As you can see, our fat-side got quite dark… But it was fine.)

6. Place your duck breast, again with the fat-side down, onto an oven proof dish and put it in the oven for 7-9 minutes. 7 minutes will give you the nice rosé duck breast. If you’re squeamish about eating your meat bloody, let it sit in the oven for 9 minutes. But you may risk the meat becoming a bit chewy. Just saying.

7. Take the duck breast out of the oven and wrap it in tin foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it into succulent, pink slices… My mum likes her meat a bit more well-done, but here’s a picture of a left-over duck breast I cooked just for myself tonight. Pink, it’s like red but not quite, just like Aerosmith says.

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While the meat rests, or even while your duck is in the oven, you can create a lovely sauce for the duck. For this you need: onions, butter, salt and pepper, possibly some beef or chicken stock, and more importantly jam and booze. The jam can be anything with a bit of oomph. I’ve now tried blackcurrant, dark cherry and fig. They’re all lovely. For the alcohol in the sauce, I’ve used both Bourbon and Port. Something with a warm taste to it would work well.

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Basically, take some finely chopped onions and a knob of butter and put them in the pan with all the gorgeous, melted duck fat. Sauté the onions until soft and then add a dollop or two of jam, followed by a splash of your choice of tipple. You can add salt and pepper at this point and also some stock, if you feel your sauce needs it. Let it simmer and reduce.

And here’s the end result!

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And in case you’re curious about the fennel and orange salad with dried cranberries, I got the idea from here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robin-miller/orange-and-fennel-salad-recipe/index.html

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