Sunday, March 1, 2009

Seared duck breast, braised cabbage, and parsnip puree

(abby's note: click on the photo to really appreciate the duck - this stuff is beyond words!)

I'm not sure why I have never cooked duck before. It's so good, but it always seemed like the sort of thing that I should just leave to restaurants. Maybe I thought it would be hard to cook? I don't know. I mean, I cook chicken all the time and that's quite possibly the hardest thing to cook properly. Duck, on the other hand, turns out to be really, really easy. Unlike chicken, you actually want this stuff undercooked. If its still a bit raw in the middle, than you're in good shape. If chicken is a bit raw in the middle, you're probably going to get sick.

Anyway, this was one of the things on my list of stuff I still needed to try cooking, so we gave it a try on Friday night. I served the duck with a red wine and pomegranate reduction, braised red cabbage, and parsnip puree. Here are the directions for two servings
  • 2 duck breast
  • salt, pepper
Parsnip puree
  • 4-6 parsnips
  • truffle oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T cream
  • salt, white pepper
  • 1/4 head red cabbage
  • 1/2 apple
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1" ginger
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 c red wine
  • 1/4 c orange juice
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 c red wine
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 T pomegranate molasses
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 clove
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch salt
Start with the cabbage, since this takes the longest. Quarter and core the cabbage. Cut into strips about 1/4" wide. Grate the apple, mince the ginger, and slice the onion into thin, half-rounds.
Cook the ginger and onions with 1 T butter over medium heat until soft. Add the cabbage and apples and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for an hour. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the cabbage is underway, get started on the sauce. Start by mincing a shallot and sweating it in a sauce pan over medium-low heat with a bit of butter. After about 5-8 minutes, add the remaining ingredients and let simmer. Let everything simmer while you make the parsnip puree and the duck. After you finish cooking the duck, let it rest and use that time to finish the sauce. Strain out the solids, then, crank up the heat and reduce the sauce down until it coats the back of a spoon. Once it gets to this point, mix in any of the liquids that have accumulate from the resting duck and mount the sauce by whisking in a spoon full of reserved duck fat from the frying pan.

To make the parsnip puree, peel the parsnips and chop them into equal sized pieces (~2" chunks). Boil in a pot of salted water for about 15 minutes. Remove the parsnips and let them drain for a couple minutes. Transfer to a food processor and mix in butter, cream. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Then add truffle oil to taste. Be careful with this stuff. A little bit goes a looooong way.
You can keep this warm in the oven at about 200F while you finish everything else off. For the duck, start by scoring the fatty side and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Turn the heat up to medium high and melt 1 T butter. Once the foam subsides, place the duck into the frying pan, skin side down. Cook for three minute, flip, and cook for another 2.5 to 3 minutes (depending on how raw you want the middle).
Remove the duck and let it rest while you finish off the rest for about 5 minutes.
To plate, spoon a little sauce on the bottom of the plate, slice the duck and fan it out on top of the sauce. Drizzle another spoonful of sauce on top of the duck. The pomegranate molasses makes this sauce very tart, so you only want to use a little bit.

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