Before I started cooking with French Fridays with Dorie, eating duck was reserved for restaurant dining. If duck was on the menu, it was often my first choice of what to order. Admittedly, it’s the sides that are usually served with duck that help suck me in: lentils, roasted root vegetables, pan-fried potatoes… One of my favorite takeaways from this cooking group is learning to sear duck breasts in my own kitchen. I have the added good fortune that the grocery store closest to my house usually has a few duck breasts and legs in the meat case, though I’ve taken to keeping a few duck breasts in the freezer for impulse cooking.
The third and final duck breast recipe in Around My French Table is Duck Breasts with Kumquats, which is a sort of deconstructed,simpler version of duck à l’orange. All of the recipes are based on the same technique of searing the duck breast and letting it finish cooking while it rests in a warm oven, each with a different sauce. The sauce this week was a citrusy red wine reduction sauce. From past experience, I knew that using a saucepan to reduce lots of liquid takes way too long, so I used a wide low sauté pan, which worked really well. In the end, the sauce was satisfactory, but not that memorable. Actually, I didn’t enjoy the sauce from any of these recipes (the others were honey glazed and with peaches). I think I prefer the duck plain, but bring on those sides! (I have lots of leftover sauce. Any ideas on how it might be used?)
On the other hand, the garnish, candied citrus, was outstanding. It’s a little too early here for the called-for kumquats, but I found some tiny clementines to stand in. The sliced fruit simmer in a dilute simple syrup until they are tender, which happens in about 10 minutes. The house smelled great! And the candied slices tasted wonderful, even just tasting them on their own straight from the pot. I’m excited to add the syrup to a glass of seltzer for a refreshing beverage. Or even to spoon the fruit and syrup over vanilla ice cream.
I wasn’t organized enough for any restaurant-worthy sides, just some Israeli couscous, but it was still good. For anyone who wonders, Howard did eat it without the sliced fruit.
This morning was our first snow! It was a light dusting of wet snow, and it melted by noontime. No big nuisance, just a little reminder of what’s coming soon.
Today is also “Bella Day”, the 5th anniversary of our adoption of our furry monster. I still remember Howard and I walking her around the parking lot at the shelter in the pouring rain, a test drive of sorts. It was only six months after we’d lost our first dog Lily. When I asked whether he thought she was the one, he responded, “What would she have to do for us NOT to take her home?”. So we became family. She’s been a joy, full of personality, a mix of sweetness and stubbornness. From her chow heritage, she’s not especially cuddly, though she likes to hang out close by her people. We also count Bella Day as her birthday, so Happy 10th Birthday, Bella!