November 20, 2008

Quirks and Quacks

Everybody has quirks, little idiosyncrasies that make us unique. These quirks can range in scale from subtle actions to overt behaviours. Sometimes you only notice a person’s quirks after spending a great deal of time with them, while others you pick up on immediately. When I was little I knew a girl who had no eyelashes. This wasn’t some sort of genetic defect, she would just compulsively pluck them out. One of my university roommates used to leave cupboard doors open, it drove me crazy. I would follow behind her shutting them. A guy at work shuffles his feet everywhere he goes. It’s a wonder he doesn’t go through more pairs of shoes, he never lifts his feet.

And for some people, their quirk manifests itself in the form of quacking like a duck. There’s no explaining these people and what’s more, they’re surprisingly hard to identify. You can know a quacker for months without ever suspecting there’s anything duck-like about them until one day a fury of quacks are unleashed and things will never be the same. Sound too strange to be true? I assure you, this happened… In honour of the quackers, here’s a recipe for duck breast with chili, honey and ginger glaze, served with mashed sweet potato. Try it yourself, it’s quacktastic!

Seared Duck Breast with Chili, Honey & Ginger Glaze (from Michael Lomonaco, Epicuious, 2000)

2 whole magret duck breasts, approximately 1 pound each, available from specialty meat markets

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 small dried ancho chili pepper soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 tablespoons warm honey dissolved in 1/2 cup port wine

2 scallions, chopped, about 1/2 cup

With the point of a knife, score the skin side of the breasts in crosshatch pattern, being careful not to pierce the flesh of the meat. Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute before adding the breasts, skin side down. Cook skin side down over medium to low heat, for approximately 10 to 12 minutes to render the fat from the skin before turning the breasts over. When the duck has rendered its fat and the skin has taken on a crisp exterior quality turn the breasts over and sauté the flesh side for 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully remove the duck from the pan, place on a platter to keep warm and pour the excess fat safely into a heat proof container. (The reserved duck fat may be chilled and used for another cooking use.)

While the duck is cooking (or even before you cook the duck), remove the chili pepper from the water in which it had soaked and reserve the liquid. Place the chili into a blender and begin to pureé, adding as much of the reserved liquid as necessary to create a smooth and thin paste-like texture. This chili paste may be refrigerated for a day covered with plastic wrap or pour a tablespoon of olive oil on its surface and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

After removing the duck breasts from the pan add the onion to still hot pan and return to the heat. Add a tablespoon or two of reserved duck fat. Sauté the onion briefly before adding the ginger and 2 tablespoons of the chili paste. Add the honey and port to the ginger chili, stir to combine and cook for one minute.

The breasts have rested for several minutes and should now be medium rare. They can be sliced lengthwise or cross-wise and several slices placed on each plate. Drizzle the warm glaze over the duck or for more impact, brush some on the duck breasts before slicing, run the duck under a hot broiler for 1 minute, caramelize the glaze and then slice and drizzle. If you desire, drizzle some around the duck breasts on the serving dish.

14 comments:

Manggy said...

Oh, goodness... Do they have a quack-like laugh or do they just quack spontaneously? Weird! The duck looks fantastic and so elegant! Thank you for cooking it medium-rare... I had rare duck once, and it was an itchy affair!

Snooky doodle said...

this looks interesting. i ve never cooked duck meat but i m intrigued now. looks delicious too :)

kat said...

Those look so tasty. I'm getting two ducks from my brother-in-law & now I have an idea what to do

dana McCauley said...

My son had duck - in various forms, 5 nights out of 7 last week. I suppose if he becomes a quacker it will be my fault for allowing him to choose such a diet.

Bassma said...

Hi Brilynn,

I received your package a few days ago and love everything you sent! Thank you so much. I'm so excited to try everything. :)

You have a beautiful blog... I'm worried that I'll be visiting it too often and will no longer want to eat anything I have here at home!

Thank you!
Bassma.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm thinking this glaze might work on a turkey breast, too... as in new idea for Thanksgiving??? Thanks!

Maria said...

I am not a duck fan, but the glaze looks great.

Lynnylu said...

I often have duck at Christmas. I'll have to make this recipe-it looks fabulous.

asha said...

That looks delicious! I will send it to all the quackers in my life ...

Mary said...

The duck looks fantastic! And what an odd quirk. It makes me feel like my quirks are much easier to deal with!

farida said...

I love duck meat.I have never cooked it myself but have tried it numerous times in different places. Your recipe sounds delicious!

janelle said...

Yum! We are learning all about poultry in school! Great timing to run across your recipe; hope you are well... quacking? Really?

Bellini Valli said...

I am sure I have met many Quackers in my life. I may know some closer to home...who knows...we can all feast on lovely duck breast:D

white on rice couple said...

The duck is just beautiful! Wow, I am so hungry now and I just love all the flavors that you added in there!