It wasn’t our wedding anniversary, nor his birthday, nor mine. Valentine’s Day won’t arrive for a couple of months.  It was just a simple Wednesday, stuck in the middle of a frantic week with the usual extra-struggles after traveling for a while.  But, I wanted a special dinner for us, just for the fun of it.  Duck breast filets (maigret de canard sounds even better… ;-)) are very easy to prepare, although potentially intimidating if it’s your first time to cook them.  A recent issue of Fine Cooking had a recipe with plum preserves to form a saucy glaze, perfect with the duck meat, that shines with a little sweetness and a little spice.

(from Fine Cooking magazine, October 2011)

2 boneless, skin-on duck breast halves
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup plum preserves
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Heat the oven to 425°F. Trim any excess skin and fat from the duck breast and, using a very sharp knife,  score the skin and fat underneath in a 1-inch diamond pattern. Be careful not to cut all the way through the flesh, you want to just get the layer of fat underneath the skin to be exposed, so the fat renders more efficiently.  Pat the duck dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Put the duck in the skillet skin side down, reduce the heat to medium low, and render the fat until only a thin, crisp layer of skin remains. It will take 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the preserves, soy sauce, five-spice powder, and red pepper flakes. Remove the duck to a platter, pour most of the fat off the skillet, and return the filets to the pan, skin side up. Brush the preserves mixture over the breasts. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a breast registers 135°F for medium rare, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the duck to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.  Heat the remaining plum mixture briefly, slice the duck diagonally  and spoon the pan juice over.


to print the recipe, click here

You won’t need much else to round out this meal.  White rice and carrots with an agave nectar glaze were wonderful for us, next to the rich and flavorful duck. But the best part of this meal was the smile on Phil’s face when I said we were having maigret de canard for dinner…  Sweet memories of Paris make any evening a special event!

ONE YEAR AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

TWO YEARS AGO: Tried and Tasty!

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