We found ourselves with 2 beautiful duck breasts in the refrigerator last night but with little time and energy to cook. Here was our solution:
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THE DUCK:
2 skinless duck breasts
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 large Meyer lemon
salt and pepper
WHAT TO DO WITH THE DUCK:
Rub both sides of each breast with the chopped thyme. Remove the rind from the lemon, either with a zester or a potato peeler (if the latter, then cut into thin strips). Sprinkle the rind over the duck breasts. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 of the lemon over the duck, turn to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle a little olive oil over (around a tablespoon). Turn again to coat evenly, then set aside for a couple of hours to marinate.
Put the duck breasts on a hot grill (reserving the marinade) and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side. When the duck breasts are cooked, place onto a cutting board and cover with foil. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes while you prepare the sauce.
Pour the reserved marinade, including any lemon rind that didn’t cling to the duck, into a small pan over a low heat. Add the black olives and the juice from the other half of the Meyer lemon. Cook over a low heat.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THE BEANS:
1 15-oz can of butter beans, drained and rinsed
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with the blade of a knife
10 black olives, pitted and halved
4 healthy sprigs of fresh thyme, plus a couple for garnish
WHAT YOU DO WITH THE BEANS:
Dry the beans on a paper towel. When ready, heat a nonstick frying pan on a low to medium heat. Add enough olive oil to form a thin layer over the base of the pan. Add the garlic cloves and allow to sizzle for a minute or two before adding the thyme sprigs. (Warning: there will likely be spitting when you add the thyme – have a lid nearby!). Let cook for a couple of minutes before adding the beans. Toss the beans to coat them in the oil and let fry, stirring or tossing often. You want them to start crisping and turning golden. Season with salt and pepper as you go. Don’t worry if you see the thyme leaves separate from the sprigs, they’re just adding more flavor to your beans.
You don’t want to overcook your beans (they’ll take around 10-12 minutes), so you need to watch your time. We double-teamed it and almost timed it right!
When all is ready, divide the now-crispy beans between two plates. Slice the duck thickly across the grain and arrange next to the beans. Pour any juices that accumulated from the resting duck into the saucepan, heat quickly, add a little salt (not much since the olives are salty) and pepper to taste, and then spoon the sauce over the duck breasts. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.
By the way, we used to think it heresy to buy skinned duck breasts, but this dish changed our minds. You can, of course, make this dish with the skins. But the advantage of skin-less is less clean-up and a slight feeling of virtue on the calorie front.
And for the wine, we found our newly-released 2012 Cuvée Julian from Eaglepoint Ranch in Mendocino County fit the bill perfectly.