Duck. Until fairly recently, it’s been on my “too difficult to cook properly” list. Also, I find it quite a strong flavoured meat. And really, I had a pet duck when I was little (named “Ping” after this book) so for many years I didn’t even touch the stuff. I started to learn to like duck in 2011 when Neil and I were a part of Charcutepalooza – our first challenge was duck prosciutto. When I discovered that duck can taste delicate, even cooked by me, I’ve been encouraged to cook duck a fair few times – and mostly with Dorie’s virtual hand-holding. For French Fridays with Dorie we’ve made honey-glazed duck breasts and duck breast with fresh peaches. Dorie’s method of cooking the duck is really easy and I used this as a basis for creating a duck dish with a red wine cherry sauce over the summer. I was excited to try my hand at this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, even though I didn’t get to eat it – I prepped it on the only day I had free to cook when I happened to be going out to dinner myself so Mr Neil was the lucky recipient of this dish!
This recipe was no different in terms of preparing the duck. In fact, the most challenging part of the prep was sourcing the kumquats. Kumquats are small, oval citrus fruits (more acidic than oranges, not quite as acidic as lemons) that are about the size of a very large olive. They are a much smaller than I was expecting, for some reason but I like the elegance they brought to the dish with their small size. Native to Asia-Pacific region, they are a fruit I saw lot of when I was growing up in Australia but one I don’t see often here. In the end, I found them quite by chance at the same store I located the elusive Jerusalem artichokes/ sunchokes for a couple of other Dorie recipes! Since they were from South Africa, I only bought a small amount (since I was only cooking this for Neil anyway).
None of the elements were difficult to prepare and you can make the kumquats and sauce beforehand. I tasted the sauce only (as you can see I didn’t ruin Mr Neil’s dinner by cutting into the duck “just for the photo”!) which I really liked – I might have used less chicken stock another time as it had a bit of a strong flavour but perhaps it worked better with the duck? Mr Neil can weigh in below in the comments. In any case, the red wine sauce infused with spices was a winner in my book. This duck is a lovely festive meal I think (the colours help that!) and I definitely would serve this for company. Another Dorie duck winner!
Get the recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Pan-seared Duck Breasts with Kumquats here or on p 232 of Around my French Table.
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