Grocery shopping is something I normally love to do – perusing the selections, picking out the perfect produce, selecting the exact cut of meat, contemplating what to make with them, and just being immersed in foods and ideas. But lately it’s been tough. It’s anxiety-ridden, it’s different, and nothing about it feels good since the pandemic has up ended our concepts of normal. I can’t gently touch each avocado or pick up each package of salmon to discern the perfect sized filets, I just focus on getting what I need and getting out. However, things turned around a little for me last time I grocery shopped. I went a little out of my way to go to a Whole Foods to also shop for another and found some semblance of peace. I’m blessed with continuing work and income during this tough time and realized that what makes me so happy is something I can do while staying home – cooking!!
So thanks to plentiful supply of various meats at Whole Foods, I went a little lux and shopped with reckless abandon for cost. One of the things I scored, which I haven’t made in a long time, was a lovely pair of breasts – duck breasts, that is.
I’ll disclaim upfront – you don’t like to eat the skin and fat, this probably isn’t the dish for you (although you should try it). When it’s rendered right and crisped up nice, it’s just as much a part of the dish as the meat. And it’s not that hard to do! You’ll first want to score the skin side in a diamond pattern – this was challenging for me because my knife probably wasn’t as sharp as it should be and the meat was closer to room temp than cold. Lessons learned and passed on to you. I scored the skin and fat and sprinkled on some rosemary, smoked salt, and pepper.
Then I got some butter browning in the sauté pan.
Once browned, I laid the breasts skin side down on a medium high heat and let them render and crisp away!
While this was happening, I had my sweet potato chunks boiling for the whipped maple sweet potatoes I was planning to go with the duck.
I let the skin side sear for several minutes, bout 6-7, until it was getting nice and brown and substantially smaller (lots of shrinkage here), then flipped to meat side.
I reduced the heat and covered to let the meat side cook for about 3-4 minutes. While that was happening, I strained the potatoes, peeled off the skin, and put them in them in the immersion blender cup with a little milk and butter to whip em good!
Once whipped, I added a little salt and pepper to taste and then stirred in some yummy maple syrup by Runamok Maple.
I flipped the breasts once more to do a final crisp on the skin and then removed them from the heat and let rest for a minute skin side up.
This time I actually sharpened the knife, then sliced up thick slices of this juicy goodness.
See how you’ve got the meat (yes, this is poultry, but it tastes like steak!!), then a layer of succulent fat, then a crispy layer of skin? Yeah, that’s where it all comes together for a blissful bite. Ok, so it’s probably not as healthy as I usually make for dinner, but sometimes it’s ok to splurge.
I tossed up a little arugula with a smoked balsamic vinegar, some lemon olive oil, and walnuts for a little salad. Then, I laid down a bed of the whipped maple sweet potatoes and placed the duck breast atop.
I had a jar of what I knew would be the perfect topping for the duck – a cherry chili chutney by Harry & David.
Oh yeah, something about cherry and duck really go well together. I spooned this on top and voila!! A beautiful, fine dining-like dish made all at home!
I paired it with a very good Pinot Noir by Markham and ahhhhh, bliss. Perfect pairing.
Be good to yourselves. Be safe and cook well.