OK, folks, now we are going to get serious. Those of you who attended our summer party last June in Healdsburg may recall the wonderful treats produced from the grill out back. Womaning that grill was Ariel Ross, a local chef and cookbook author. Ariel has been kind enough to be a guest contributor to our blog and offers the following recipe for a duck dish that is perfect for a cold, wet winter’s evening.
WHAT YOU NEED (for 4 to 6 people):
4 duck breasts (preferably Pekin or Muscovy), about 2 ½-3 pounds total
6 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon juniper berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coriander seed, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper, freshly ground
3 cinnamon sticks, each snapped in half
6 allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon fennel seed, freshly ground
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 large thyme sprigs, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 dried culinary bay leaves, crumbled
Maldon Sea Salt
Green Olive Butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup pitted green olives (such as Lucques or picholines), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon local honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon duck fat
Salt and pepper to taste
4 handfuls young rocket or wild arugula
2 cups frisee
2 -3 cups red wine lentils (use a recipe such as David Lebovitz’s: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/11/cheap-caviar-1/ )
WHAT YOU DO:
1. In a small bowl, combine together the kosher salt, sugar, juniper berries, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, allspice berries, fennel seed, garlic cloves, thyme, orange zest and bay leaves. Pat the duck breasts dry with a paper towel and lay them down on a paper towel, meat side down. Using a sharp knife, score the skin layer in a crosshatch pattern, about 1/8inch through the skin but be careful not to cut into the meat below. Sprinkle both sides of duck evenly with spice mixture and let sit for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Meanwhile, make the green olive butter. Combine the butter, a pinch of salt and pepper, the coarse olives, parsley leaves, capers and shallots until combined. Turn butter out onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll into a loose log. Store in refrigerator until needed.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Brush away any large herbs or spices from the duck before proceeding.
Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in a large (oven proof), cold heavy sauté pan. Put pan on the stove over medium to high heat and slowly allow the fat to render.
After about 5 minutes, about 1/8 inch of fat will be rendered in pan. Drain off the fat from the pan into a bowl. You will need to remove the fat a couple times during cooking to ensure a crispy skin and crust.
4. To cook the duck, turn the heat to medium – low and continue cooking the duck until the skin is crispy and well browned, about 10 minutes time. Drain the fat off one more time and flip the duck breasts over and cook for about 1to 2 more minutes. Slice 1 slab of green olive butter onto each of the breasts and place the pan in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the duck is taut and springy to the touch. , about 8 minutes. Remove and let rest for 2 minutes. Finish duck with a sprinkle of Maldon salt on each breast. Slice each breast into ½ inch slices. Keep separate.
5. To make the vinaigrette for the salad, combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine, tasting for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Toss the rocket (arugula) and frisee with about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste a piece with the vinaigrette and add salt and more vinaigrette if necessary.
6. To finish the dish, place about 1 cup of rocket and frisee on each large dinner plate, and place duck slices on top of greens. Spoon 1/2 cup red
wine lentils next to the duck, garnish with herb sprigs and serve.
WHAT TO DRINK: Ariel suggests 2012 Stark Carignane, Trimble Ranch, Mendocino County as the perfect partner with this dish.
ABOUT ARIEL: Ariel Ross has been designing and executing memorable dinners and events from the bounty of Sonoma County for more than 20 years. ” Give Ariel a call or email when thinking about your next event. And, if you can, get some of Ariel’s brilliant Kaffir Lime Leaf Almond Florentine cookies!
Ariel Ross — http://www.arielross.com – firstname.lastname@example.org – 707-486-1321