This is a dish that looks very impressive but is relatively quick and easy to prepare.
serves: 12 difficulty: medium prep time: 30 min + 2 hrs
- 4 large duck breasts
- 1 star anise
- 10 juniper berries
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbs canola or vegetable oil for frying
Port and sour cherry reduction
- 2 tbs canola or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup diced shallots
- 8 -10 juniper berries, crushed
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves or 1 whole clove
- 1 cup port wine
- 1/3 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup dried sour cherries
Salad for garnish
- 1/2 lbs frisee
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tbs sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
The easiest way to cook the duck breast in a fool-proof way (or any other meat for that matter) is to use a sous vide machine. If you don’t have one, it is a worthwhile investment. Mine is Joule and it comes with a phone app so that you can control it remotely.
First, wash and pat dry the duck breasts.
Next, season the duck breasts with 1 tbs sea salt and ground black pepper on the meat side (i.e. not the skin side).
Grind the star anise and the juniper berries in a spice grinder (I actually use a coffee grinder), and mix with the ground cinnamon. Rub the seasoning on the meat side of the breasts.
Flip the breasts skin side up, and score the skin with a pairing knife while being careful to cut into the skin and the fat only, but not into the meat. Score diagonally in one direction and then in the opposite direction to form the checkerboard pattern below.
Place the breasts in a sous vide nylon bag, vacuum, seal them, and place in the sous vide machine. Cook at 136 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 to 120 min.
While the breasts are in the sous vide machine, prepare the reduction. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots until translucent. Add juniper berries, and the cloves, and sauté for another minute. Add the port wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Remove from the heat and strain. While the reduction is still warm, add the dried sour cherries, and let rest.
Once the breasts are finished cooking, take them out of the sous vide bag. Heat oil in a large frying pan, and place the breasts skin side down. Fry for about a min – until the skin caramelizes. The only purpose of the frying is aesthetic – you don’t want the breast meat to be cooking any more. Flip on the breasts and fry them on the meat side for 20 sec. Take out of the frying pan, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 3-4 min.
Mix the olive oil, vinegar and mustard to make the dressing for the frisee salad. I typically do that in small glass jars left over from jams. Mix the frisee and the dressing.
To plate, slice each breast into 4 pieces. Place 2-3 tbs port-cherry reduction into each plate. Then place 2-3 pieces of duck breast on top of the reduction, and add the frisee on the side.
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