Friday, January 29, 2010

Pan-Fried Duck Breast with Orange, Thyme and Juniper Rub

This recipe was so good I made it twice in under a week. Decadent, yes, but the reason for the second go-round is that I wanted to serve it to my parents who were in town for dinner last night. It's one of Anthony Sedlak's recipes from his cookbook The Main, based on the TV series of the same name, and I've got to hand it to the Vancouver chef -- the man knows food.

Everything in this recipe went together wonderfully well -- the juniper, orange zest and thyme rub on the duck breast, the sides of rosemary-roasted plums and roasted celeriac, even the homemade orange relish. Also, as per Anthony's suggestion I used some of the rendered duck fat to fry the celeriac before roasting it, and it was delicious. That and the roasted plums were revelations -- I couldn't believe the sweet, almost floral aroma given off by the plums after they'd cooked for half an hour. Magnificent. My parents enjoyed the meal too -- so much that my mom plans to make this next time they have friends for dinner. Couldn't have asked for higher praise!

Pan-Fried Duck Breast with Orange, Thyme and Juniper Rub

4 duck breasts
1 tbsp black pepper
Zest of one orange
2 tsp crushed juniper berries
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Lightly score skin side of breasts.

Combine black pepper, orange zest, juniper berries, parsley and thyme in a bowl and mix well. Pat firmly onto flesh side of duck breasts. Let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Let duck breasts stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes. Season generously on flesh sides with sea salt. Place duck breasts skin side down in a large, ovenproof skillet and cook slowly over medium heat until fat renders and skin becomes crispy and golden, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain pan of excess heat as needed; reserve 2 tbsp of duck fat for the roasted celeriac.

Finish cooking in oven 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest at least 10 minutes in a warm place. Thinly slice against grain before serving.

Serves 4

Courtesy The Main, Anthony Sedlak, Whitecap Books, 2008

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