Duck. It’s one of those meats that many people put on their “too difficult to cook properly” list. Or they think it’s too gamey. For most of my life, I’ve been one of those people as well. My journey to slowly learning to like duck began in 2011 when Neil and I took part in Charcutepalooza and our first challenge was duck prosciutto. I was worried because to that point (and still, to some extent, with certain dishes today), I was in the “duck is too gamey” camp and I thought that duck prosciutto might just be too much. In fact, it was one of our favourite Charcutepalooza experiments ever. Since then, I’ve made duck a few times – both times for French Fridays with Dorie – honey-glazed duck breasts and duck breast with fresh peaches. Dorie’s method of cooking the duck seemed very “do-able” to me and the few times I’ve made it on my own, it’s been pretty easy (although making the version with fresh peaches was a bit of a saga as I was in a rental kitchen with pans I didn’t know would get so hot so fast…).
In Paris every summer, I tend to eat a bit more duck than I normally would; over the past few years, I’ve definitely grown to appreciate it a lot more and certainly, it’s a very common dish in France. There are some preparations that really make duck meat shine and for me, those often involve summer fruits. The fresh peach presentation, although not entirely the way Dorie suggested we make it, was a revelation last summer so when the folks at The Ontario Produce Marketing Association asked me to develop a recipe for sweet cherries for Produce Made Simple, my mind immediately went to duck. Being in the South West of France, may have influenced my decision a little but the brief was to come up with a recipe that was “somewhat unique or more interesting than your average recipe“. I knew that duck and cherries would go well together so I thought it might be a great way to introduce a less-common protein to people who might not think of using it, either because it’s “difficult” or because they think they don’t like it.
This recipe starts out with a pound of sweet cherries, shallots and a little zest and juice from an orange. I was basically planning on making a thicker compote to accompany the duck but when I had it in the pan, I realised that it might just be a little too sweet so I added some red wine (I didn’t have many ingredients on hand in a tiny rental kitchen!) which took some of the edge off the sweetness moving it away from the “dessert” realm.
The method for cooking the duck breast is adapted from Dorie’s version – I made this a number of times in the space of just a few days – in different pans, with different sized duck breasts (yes I travel with a kitchen scale) on different cooktops and in one kitchen, with no oven to let the duck breast rest in so my version is what worked for me in less than ideal circumstances.
I served the dish a couple of different ways – with the sauce on the side…
This is a recipe I’ll definitely make again – for company, it’s that easy – and it’s one that I thought really works with duck meat. I mean, if I’m a fan, it’s definitely a great recipe to try if you are in the “beginner” camp with duck!
Want to try it for yourself? Head on over to Produce Made Simple for my Duck with red-wine cherry sauce recipe.
Read more about sweet cherries – including what pairs well, how to select and store and cherry nutrition facts – over on Produce Made Simple.
WORLDWIDE giveaway – Win a copy of The Paris Journal. Ends Sunday July 20th, 6pm EST. Details here.
Many of you will know I’m in France for most of the summer. While I will be slowly blogging about things I do here, the best way to keep up with me will be by following my photos which you can do on my Summer 2014 set on Flickr or Instagram where I am @eatlivtravwrite (if you don’t have the app on your phone you can still check out the photos online.