Caraway duck with cherry balsamic jus

Part of the fun of eating out is trying something you wouldn’t ever cook yourself. But for Winter Feast this year, I wanted to do something out of the ordinary (for me). In fancy restaurants, sometimes you see a single ingredient presented in more than one way on a plate.

Cherry balsamic jus is sweet and tart

Cherry balsamic jus is a little sweet and tart

With the main course for Winter Feast, I decided to present duck in two ways. Although that sounds really pretentious, contrasting textures and flavours are something we enjoy every day. It’s having malt vinegar on your chips, hot fudge sauce on ice cream or soft scrambled eggs with crisp toast. Ordinary pleasures all of them but when done right are so good.

Since it was part of a larger feast, I served six duck breasts between eight people. Otherwise, allow for one duck breast per person if you want a heartier main course. I used caraway seed with the duck for an Eastern European inspired seasoning but it’s mild and you can replace with black pepper if you prefer.

Caraway strewn duck marylands, roasted to shred

Caraway strewn duck marylands, roasted to shred

The night before, I had slow cooked two duck marylands with caraway seeds in the oven until well done. When cool, I shredded the meat off the bone so the next day, all I had to do before serving was crisp up the duck in a frying pan. The duck breasts were roasted briefly in the oven so they remained pink, then rested and sliced. So there you go, two textures of duck!

I served the shredded duck on a mound of sauteed kale, fresh orange segments and roasted almonds. There ended up being more vegetables than duck on the plate which kept it from being too heavy. With orange zest in the jus and orange segments, you could think of it as a lighter take on the classic French dish, duck a l’orange. Fresh cherries were cooked down in balsamic vinegar for a sauce that’s slightly sweet and tart. With duck, you need something to cut through the rich meat.

Caraway duck with cherry balsamic jus

Feeds: 8 people
Start cooking: 1 hour before eating

Ingredients:

  • 8 x duck breasts (200 – 220 grams each)
  • 2 teaspoons x caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon x salt
  • 2 cups x fresh cherries, pipped
  • 150ml x balsamic vinegar
  • 25ml x orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon x orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon x salt

Method:

  1. Trim excessive fat off the duck breast (don’t remove any skin as it’ll shrink in the pan anyway). Score the skin, taking care not to cut into the flesh.
  2. Heat up a saute pan or frying pan over medium heat. Place duck breasts skin side down and render out fat for 4 minutes until golden brown and the skin is just crispy. Do this in 2 batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Pour out the rendered duck fat from each batch and reserve for another time. Duck fat should be kept in the fridge.
  3. Place duck breast in a single layer in a baking tray and sprinkle over salt and caraway seeds.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (400 F). Roast duck breasts for 10 minutes until still slightly pink. Cover with foil to keep warm and rest for 8 minutes.
  5. While you’re cooking the duck breasts, start the sauce by placing pipped cherries, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, orange zest and orange juice into a saucepan. Simmer for 12 minutes over medium heat until reduced and syrupy.
  6. Once the duck has rested, pour any duck cooking juices into the sauce and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
  7. Slice duck slices and layer on a plate, pouring over the cherry balsamic jus. Serve with sauteed dark leafy vegetables.
Shredded duck sitting on kale, almond and orange

Shredded duck sitting on kale, roasted almonds and orange

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