Duck breasts with four spices

December 9, 2009

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Serves 4

2 whole duck breasts
1 tablespoon whole juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Armagnac
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut up
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1. Pat the duck breasts dry. Separate them into 4 pieces. Score the fat side on the diagonal twice to form a diamond pattern.

2. In heavy dry skillet, heat the juniper berries, shaking the pan, until they are shiny; transfer to a plate.

3. With a mortar and pestle combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, pepper, juniper berries, and salt. Work well until smooth. Rub the spice mixture into the skin and meat sides of the breasts. Set the duck on a plate, cover, and refrigerate until ready to cook.

4. Remove the duck from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

5. Heat the skillet until quite hot. Place the duck, skin side down, in the hot pan. After 5 minutes, when the skin is browned and the fat has started to render, remove the breasts from the pan. Drain off the fat and wipe out the pan with paper towels. Replace the duck in the pan, meat sides down, and cook 5 minutes more (for medium-rare meat) or 8 minutes (for medium). Transfer the meat to a plate and keep warm.

6. Add the vinegar to the skillet, stirring well to remove the crusty bits that cling to it. Add the Armagnac and wine; let the mixture bubble gently until reduced by half.

7. Meanwhile, slice the breasts on the diagonal and fan the slices on a warm platter.

8. Add the capers to the sauce and remove from the heat. Stir in the unsalted butter, taste for seasoning, and spoon the sauce over the duck. Sprinkle with chives. Adapted from Kitchen-at-Camont