DUCK BREAST WITH FRESH FIGS
Ingredients for 4 persons:
2 duck breasts (Muscovy preferred)
2 teaspoons five-spice powder (homemade if necessary*)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 - 15 black figs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoons duck or veal stock (optional)
Coarse sea salt
Trim off extra skin and score the fat on duck in criss-cross. Rub the duck with spices mixed with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Marinate for 2 hours.
Heat a grill or cast-iron skillet to very hot. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Sear the duck breasts on fat side, about a minute, until dark brown. Turn and sear on flesh side about 1-1/2 minutes until browned or sear the duck on both sides in a skillet. Transfer the duck to a baking dish and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Rinse and dust the figs with ground pepper. Sear on the grill 3-5 minutes or in a skillet, until starting to sizzle. Remove and halve.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet, add shallots and cook until soft. Stir in thyme and half the wine. Cook until wine just films pan. Stir in the stock if available. Add figs and remaining wine; cook until wine is reduced by a third. Stir in remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Serve duck after it's baking period, or reduce heat to 150 degrees and hold up to 30 minutes more. Slice breast meat on the bias and spoon on sauce.
* HOMEMADE FIVE SPICE POWDER:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix the spices together well. Keep sealed airtight
(If you have trouble finding the star anise or anise seed in ground form, pulverize them in the food processor for several minutes and pass through a sieve. Use only the powder.)
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