Duck Breast for the Italian Table –
This one definitely quacks like a duck! (and don’t run away – this is easier than you think!) This DUCK BREAST WITH BLACKBERRIES will definitely have your guests quacking with praise for your skills and hours spent in the kitchen in preparation. NOT! Actually there are no hours involved and no – there will be no plucking, neck breaking, or hanging the bird upside down for days before. In fact, plan on a little spa treatment or a round of golf on the day you prepare this because it takes no time at all! But I’ll never tell, and your secret is safe with me. Go ahead and tell them how you agonized for hours over a hot stove for this dish. I’ll be chuckling right along with you.
Actually, duck is common in Italian cooking. One of the most well known recipes is Sugo d’Anatra or D’Anatra Sauce. Anatra refers to duck in Italian. As Italians appreciate their game and offer superb game recipes, you’ll find many types of preparations for wild duck. My father, Attilio, duck hunter extraordinaire, was supreme when it came to cooking duck, in my estimation. He understood the need for extra fat when cooking lean wild duck and always included some kind of fat – pork fat and/or butter in his recipes for duck and also quail. He often included fruit and vinegar in his duck recipes – always the vino and sometimes brandy!
Although the duck used for DUCK BREAST WITH BLACKBERRIES is domestic and contains plenty of fat, you could always use wild duck, and perhaps increase the fat as needed. Duck breast is available frozen at Whole Foods and many specialty markets. It is also available online. If you can’t find duck, try Pork Tenderloin with the sauce. This recipe is definitely a nod to Attilio’s duck in its use of ingredients. He would heartily approve of the butter, sugar, blackberries and cognac.
“Tilly” – this one’s for you!
DUCK BREAST WITH BLACKBERRIES
Prep (breasts): 5 minutes
Cook (breasts): About 15 minutes
2 Duck Breasts with skin attached (this is good fat!) (Pork Tenderloin is also great with this sauce!)
1 Tbsp. Butter
Salt and Pepper
Blackberry Sauce (recipe below)
Place your duck breasts between a couple of sheets of wax paper. Pound the breasts to flatten just a little with a mallet or something heavy.
Score the skin on the breast with a sharp knife, first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. This will help the fat to render and run.
Salt and pepper the breasts on both sides.
Place the butter and melt it in a heavy oven proof pan on medium high heat. You want it hot to sear the breasts.
Place the breasts, first – skin side down in the pan. Sear about 5 minutes.
Turn the breasts over and sear the other side for 1-2 minutes.
Turn to fat side down again and place the pan in a 400 degree oven and cook for about 7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven immediately and remove the breasts from the pan. Let them rest for about 10 minutes.
Then slice the breasts thickly.
Prep (sauce): 10 minutes
Cook (sauce): 35-40 minutes
1 C. Brown Sugar
2 Whole Cloves
1/4 C.Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C. Cognac
1/2 Onion – chopped
2 C. Fresh Blackberries + a few extra to garnish each plate.
Generous squeeze of a fresh lemon
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1/4 C. Water
Place brown sugar, cloves, vinegar, and cognac in a saucepan – bring to a boil – reduce heat and simmer a couple of minutes.
Now add the onion, blackberries, and lemon juice.
Bring back to a boil – reduce heat – and simmer on medium to medium low for about 35-40 minutes. Lower heat if it begins to cook too fast.
Add cornstarch to water and stir to dissolve. Set aside until the sauce is finished.
Now add 1/2 the cornstarch mixture to the sauce, stir over low heat until sauce thickens. Add more of the cornstarch mixture one spoon at a time only if you want more thickness.
You should have a thick beautiful fruit sauce.
Spoon some of the sauce on a plate and arrange the duck breast slice on the sauce. Garnish with a few fresh Blackberries.
DUCK BREAST WITH BLACKBERRY SAUCE is a special dish for a special evening. As special as it is and looks, it is very simple to make. You’ll love it and want to make it again and again. Once more, I have to go to the Amarone or Valpolicella wines for this dish. (Attilio would have agreed on this!) They seem to have just the right weight for the duck without overwhelming it. Also, the spice in the wines will compliment the sauce. If you find either in a Ripasso (referring to the “re-pass or re-ferment” method of production which creates a greater and more robust flavor) – even better!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography