If there is duck on a menu, I’m likely to order it. In fact if I don’t order the duck my husband is shocked and wonders if I am well. I love th
e deep savoriness of duck and the crispy counterpoint when the sear or roast has gone perfectly. Many people I have found are afraid of cooking a duck, I’m here to tell you it’s all about what you do not do with duck. Do not flip and turn and bother it very much. Do not rush it along. Open a bottle of wine, take a break and just relax. Let this duck breast cook slowly slowly in the pan. The delicious liquid gold duck fat will render, the skin will crisp up, all will be right in the world.
In the fall I did an open air class in a botanical garden using Maple Leaf Farms duck breast, coaxing it low and slow along in a saute pan for onlookers and some amazing persimmons and greens from the garden. Persimmons, like citrus scream winter and their sharp bright acidity and bitter edge are really great with the meatiness of duck. I highly suggest you give them a go, but if it so happens that you try this recipe in another season, feel free to muck around with the fruit selection, just pick something bright and acidic, like oranges, cherries, or tart plums.
This recipe is simple and served with wilted greens, a beautiful sort that is a perennial and will grow back for you faithfully year after year, although its just as lovely made with Swiss chard, or beet greens, or even large leafy spinach. At home I rounded out the meal with some spaetzle, (gluten free as we have a child with celiac disease) a recipe soon to come I assure you.
As I looked down at the plate I was struck with how lucky I am, to share this meal with my family, to create joy with my passions, to have a lifelong obsession uniquely suited to be able to care for my child who can’t eat like the rest of the world. Who is it that said food is love? All the grandmas everywhere maybe.
Pan Seared Duck Breast
with Persimmon Sauce and Sautéed Greens
- 4 (8 oz) Maple Leaf Farm duck breasts
- 1teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup diced persimmon
- 1 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tsp finely minced ginger
- 2 tablespoon minced shallot (or onion if shallot is unavailable)
- black pepper to taste
- 2 Tb reserved duck fat or olive oil
- 2 bunches Malabar spinach (large leaf spinach, chard, kale or other greens will work)
- ½ cup diced onion
- ½ cup diced sweet peppers
- 1 Tb minced hot peppers or 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
Pat duck breasts dry. Score the skin side of the duck breast in a 1/2-inch crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut into the duck flesh. You should cut almost completely through the skin. Season with salt and pepper generously on both sides.
Combine persimmon, orange juice, sugar, ginger and shallot in a bowl. Mix with an immersion blender (or just whiz up in a regular blender) until it is smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan. Turn on medium heat and reduce by half. Remove from heat once it has reduced.
Place duck breasts into a heavy skillet, skin side down. Turn on medium low heat. When the duck starts to sizzle, press gently with a spatula so that the skin is seared evenly. Continue cooking until the skin renders extra fat and turns golden brown. Flip to cook the other side until the meat reaches the desired doneness. A thermometer inserted to the thickest part should read 135 for medium rare, 145 for medium, or 150 for medium-well, and 165 for definitely well done. The whole cooking process usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. Immediately transfer duck breasts to a plate, skin side up. Reserve duck fat, this is like gold! Tent duck breasts loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
For greens, wash remove stems and dry. Roughly chop the greens. Heat 2 Tb of reserved duck fat (or olive oil if making separately) in a large pan. Add onions and peppers, saute 3-4 minutes to soften. Add greens and season with salt and pepper. Saute until softened.
After the duck has rested, slice and serve with persimmon sauce and greens .