Crispy Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce

April 17th, 2011

OK, I meant to take pictures, but didn’t remember until we were half-way through eating it. Next time!

I picked up a whole duck breast at Fitt’s Seafoods and looked at tons of recipes and cooking techniques online to come up with a preparation. Since I had a party to go to mid-afternoon, I gave Norm a list of things to cut up while I was gone, and I made the cherry sauce ahead of time to reheat for serving. And nothing got cut up while I was gone, but I got home a bit early, so it didn’t matter.

Cherry Sauce
8 oz. Dried Bing Cherries
2 Tbsp. Good Balsamic Vinegar
½ Tsp. Salt
½ Tsp. Fresh Orange Zest
3 C water (more or less, depending on cherries and desired texture)

Put all ingredients except water in a small saucepan. Add 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook, adding water as needed, until cherries have re-constituted and softened. Carefully blend in blender or use immersion blender (mixture is hot) until mixture is chunky and no whole cherries remain. Return to heat and cook until thick – it shouldn’t be much longer. If preparing ahead of time, set aside to reheat while duck is cooking.

Duck and vegetables
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 C diced carrot
1 C diced onion
1 C diced celery
1 whole Duck Breast
3 Tbsp minced fresh Thyme
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Put oil in a pan with carrot, onion, celery, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Sautee vegetables over medium heat until they start to soften
4. Rinse and pat dry (separate halves if necessary) duck breast
5. With a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a cross-hatch pattern
6. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over breast, and pat lightly to adhere
7. Heat a heavy oven-proof skillet to medium heat.
8. Put duck breast in skin-side down and cook on stove until breasts are dark and crisped
9. Remove duck breasts from pan and pour off rendered fat. Strain the fat and put in sealed container in the fridge for use in other dishes.
10. Pour the vegetables into the pan the duck had been in.
11. Place duck breast over vegetables, skin-side up
12. While duck is cooking, reheat the cherry sauce, if made earlier
13. Place pan in the oven at 350F and bake duck for 40 minutes until a slice off the end of a piece shows the desired amount of doneness. A smaller end might be done a bit more than a larger end, so take that into consideration
14. Let duck rest for 5 minutes or so
15. Slice duck thin on the bias and place on a platter
16. Serve with vegetables and the sauce in a bowl on the side so everyone can sauce the duck themselves

Enjoy! And hope it doesn’t smell of burnt sweet potatoes that Norm had cooked up directly on the oven rack, missing the baking sheet that I put in specifically to catch that kind of thing.

Easy Mayonnaise: Immersion blender method

April 13th, 2011

When I discovered this after years of using immersion blenders (yes, I’m hard on them) my friends said: “Well, yeah. That’s been one of their selling points forever!” OK, so I’m slow. I use it in my Wild Rice Salad, chicken salad, sandwich spreads and as a base for fried seafood such as breaded spicy calamari rings.

If you’re concerned about raw egg, you can use pasteurized eggs in a carton, but make sure it has whole eggs, since the yolk is important here.

Choose a blender container that is just wider than the blender head, but not much wider. I use a big plastic tumbler.

You can easily double this, but unless your blender is very long, I wouldn’t triple it, or it might come up above where the blade head connects to the motor part. If you need more than 2 cups of mayo, make multiple batches.

1 egg
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
juice from ½ lemon
salt to taste
1 C light flavored oil, such as vegetable or canola (I found olive oil overpowering)

1. Put ingredients in blender container in order (it’s very important to have the egg on the bottom and oil on top
2. Put the immersion blender all the way to the bottom of the container
3. Turn on the blender and slowly raise it to the top of the mixture. Mayonnaise will be created from the bottom up
4. Blend around and up and down a few times to make sure the oil is incorporated (or the salt, since I seem to forget it every time)
5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.