I know this post is horribly late, but I want to show what I made for Pretty Bird this past Valentine’s Day.
What you are looking at is Seared Duck Breast with Roasted Beets, a Ginger Pumpkin Strudel and a Red Wine Cherry Duck Demi-Glace. I had to work on Valentine’s Day, so I had everything ready to go before I left for work that evening, then I rushed home, threw it together and we had a lovely late supper!
The secret to a nice duck breast is two-fold. Number one, a good sear on the fat side for 75% of the cooking time crisps up that skin and infuses the duck with fatty goodness. Secondly, Duck Is Not Chicken!!! You should never serve duck breast cooked more than medium. Medium Well is OK at best, and well done is dried out, chewy crap. I prefer Medium Rare, as you can see. It’s completely safe to eat at this temp, and most importantly, delicious.
Roasted Beets are pretty self-explanatory, so here’s the recipes for the remaining two components of the plate.
First, the sauce! This is a sauce that takes time, but is also pretty hands off and easy to have on the back burner as you do other things. Start off with:
1 T Garlic, minced
2 T Onion, minced
Sweat these over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic aromatic. Then add:
2 cups Whole Frozen Cherries
Cook all these together until most of the cherry juice has been extracted from the fruit and reduced by about half. Then add:
2 cups Red Wine
Reduce this by 1/2 to 2/3 depending on how concentrated you like it. The more concentrated the wine reduction, the more the sugars caramelize and the sweeter your end product. When it comes to reducing sauces/stocks, remember this helpful phrase: Slow and Low is the way to Go. Take your time, don’t be in a hurry. Sauces are there to be a delicious, decadent, divine finishing stroke to a dish. Add the liquids one at a time and let them reduce. Adjust your heat so that the liquid hovers just at boiling–slow small bubbles. Yes, you can just throw everything in a pot and walk away. Yes, you can crank the flame and get this done in a hurry, you can also make pot roast in a microwave. The end result isn’t nearly as satisfying. Any-hoo, once your wine is reduced, add:
2 cups Duck Stock
Once again, reduce by 1/2 to 2/3. Once the sauce is reduced, add it to a blender and puree the hell out of it. Pass it through a fine mesh strainer and finish it with Salt and Pepper to taste. What you’re left with is a highly concentrated, rich, delicious sauce that will make your whole house smell amazing, and guarantees a clean plate once it’s served.