Seared Duck Breast

In an attempt to fully take advantage of a new, “no day like today” attitude, I decided it was time to conquer a dish I’d been hyping myself up to make for the past year — duck breast. In reality, I had hoped to take inspiration from Alton Brown and slow cook an entire duck for three long hours, pouring out the fat every hour as it cooked to crispy perfection in the oven. But alas, a simple duck breast would have to do (for now).

I turned to The New York Times and found a recipe for a Five-Spice Duck Breast With Blackberries. For the duck breast, I went to Citarella, a more specialty store in New York City, where they had a breast large enough to serve two (insert dirty joke here). Afterwards, I made my way to Fairway to stock up on the other ingredients, which were relatively inexpensive and simple. I had hoped to add a starch to the dish, so I returned to the master Alton Brown for his rosemary potato rösti cooked in duck fat. Yes, please.

Instead of my usual description of how I made the entire meal, I photographed and videotaped my cooking experience on Snapchat. So enjoy the video below!

To my surprise, this dish was far easier to make and I’m wondering why I was intimidated for so long. The cooking adventures are just beginning. I hope you follow along!

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Five-Spice Duck Breast With Blackberries

Adapted from the New York Times and Alton Brown

INGREDIENTS

Duck:

  • 2 Muscovy duck breasts, about 1 pound each
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated

Sauce:

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons good sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 ounces blackberries
  • ½ cup rich chicken broth

Potatoes:

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Duck fat, for frying

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Season both sides of the duck breasts with salt, then sprinkle both sides evenly with five-spice powder (make sure not to use too much).
  2. Mix together ginger and garlic and use it to slather the breasts.
  3. Cover and let marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Place a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat (make sure the pan is dry). When pan is hot, lay duck breast in it skin-side down.
  5. Let sizzle gently for 7 minutes, until skin is crisp and golden, adjusting heat as necessary to keep from getting too dark too quickly.
  6. Turn breast over and cook 3 to 5 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer should register 125 degrees for medium rare.
  7. Remove from pan and let rest for 10 minutes on a warm plate.
  8. Make the sauce: Over medium heat, add shallots to same pan and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Add sherry vinegar, brown sugar and half the blackberries, stirring until sugar is dissolved and berries have released their juice.
  10. Add chicken broth, raise heat and simmer rapidly until liquid is reduced by half and a bit syrupy.
  11. Strain the contents of the skillet into a small saucepan and keep warm.
  12. Grate the potatoes and squeeze out excess liquid using your hands.
  13. Toss the potatoes with the melted butter, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  14. Heat 1 tablespoon of duck fat in a 6-inch cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Press some of the potato mixture into the hot pan to make a 1/4-inch thick cake.
  15. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the rosti is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the rosti in the pan and add more duck fat.
  16. Continue cooking until golden and crisp.
  17. To serve, slice duck breast thinly across the grain on a diagonal and arrange on a platter. Spoon the sauce over the meat and garnish with the rest of the blackberries. Serve with potato rosti
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