a couple of days ago on a whim, i bought some good looking duck breasts that jumped out at me from the refrigerated case at ‘marche‘.later on that afternoon i picked up some mustard greens because they were on sale and i was thinking of using them in a white bean soup. and earlier in the week i had bought a hefty container of blueberries that i somehow hadn’t gotten around to eating. and lookey here. it all turned into dinner.
i love it when this happens. it makes me feel like i have a clue… it’s truly baffling how this could be, but i’d actually never cooked duck breasts before. so i consulted with a friend and then looked at a few ‘how to cook a duck breast‘ sites – and i was off and running.
you score the fat in a crosshatch pattern – taking care to not cut into the meat. salt and pepper the breasts and place themin a cast iron pan, skin side downon a low to medium heat and slowly render out all the fat – and it’s a remarkable amount. i drained off the fat as it cooked, saving it for another time – and when the skin had crusted over just right, i turned them over and browned the bottoms. being that they were pretty thick, i checked them with a thermometer and then threw them in the oven for about 5 minutes to finish. the breasts were still medium rare and the skin was crisp. note: these were some big breasts. i weighed them both and they were an exact kilo. over a pound a breast. if this duck had been a country singer, its breasts were the dolly parton’s of duck boobs. but to get technical the duck was not a country singer (it just plays one on tv), but a moulard magret. and the taste was ok – but not what i was after. the meat wasn’t that"duck like" -it was more of a nondescript kinda thing. so i think my next duck breasts will be from a muscovy. much smaller but with a perkier flavor… (hehe).
the idea for a blueberry sauce came from the memory of a dinner over 20 years ago at a well loved, small and ultra quaint restaurant on the upper east side called ‘provence‘. i’d forgotten about the place and it seems that they had closed their doors for a bit, but then unbeknownst to me, reopened down in the village on macdougal street. i’ve not been since the big move but from the pics on their website, the vibe of the place feels about the same. very southern french – very pierre deux in decor. it’s a definite ‘look’. my mom’s a big fan.
(but i digress)
so then it was all about making a gastrique – a reduction of red wine, vinegar, sugar and fruit. d’artagnan had a blueberry version on their site that went a little something like this. ready? a one anda two anda…
4 cups dry Red Wine
2 cups Sugar
1cup Banyuls or Sherry Vinegar
4 cups fresh Blueberries
Bring wine to the boil and reduce by half. Place sugar in a clean dry copper pot. Cook over medium heat without stirring. When the sides of the pan begin to caramelize, stir with wooden spoon to even out the color. Off heat, carefully pour vinegar in caramelized sugar. Add reduced wine and berries. Return to heat and whisk until well blended. Bring to simmer and reduce until proper consistency. Season with salt and white pepper. Brighten with fresh lime juice.
sounds excellent, right? well hey – pssssst…. c’mere – cause here’s what you can do. first off, i halved the above recipe which is plenty of sauce for 4 – with extra. you just put the vinegar, wine, sugar, salt and pepper into one pot. reduce it down to about half then add the berries and cook around another 3 minutes and then remove from heat and add the lime juice. and it was quite good. next time i’ll add the sugar first and caramelize lightly for added depth of flavor – and then add the wine, reduce it down and then add the vinegar and simmer. but i was moving fast… the chopped mustard greens were thrown into a pot with a bit ofwater. after they wilted they were hit with a glug of olive oil, avery finely minced cloveof garlicand some salt. these particular greens added a really welcome pungent aspect to the dish.
a quick dinner on a saturday night…