For the past 12 weeks, I have been having fabulous Mondays…While most people dread Monday morning, for me it’s meant showing up for another awesome cooking experience at the www.newschoolofcooking.com. As a longtime home cook, I decided to jump in and take a 20-week cooking course, and its been a ton of fun. We started with knife skills and stock-making, then sauces, then eggs and dairy, then grains, then veggies, and have now plunged into proteins. This week is chicken week: one of the most versatile and reasonably expensive sources of protein to work with and enjoy.
Now I have cooked chicken a myriad of ways, an innumerable number of times; but I had never ventured into the realm of duck before. My chef instructor, Jess Hilton, assigned my cooking partner and I a recipe for duck. Here are some key things that distinguish duck from chicken: ducks can and do fly – hence their breast meat is quite red and dark in quality (unlike their land-bound chicken brethren; the meat is done at a medium 135 degrees (versus chicken’s 165 degrees of doneness), and it’s deliciously gamy.
This dish has an Asian flavor profile and it is bold and flavorful…Here are the ingredients and steps:
Dressing for Slaw:
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sriracha
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 Napa cabbage, finely shredded (about 3 cups)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. cilantro leaves
3 tbsp. mint, finely sliced
Stir together all dressing ingredients in a large bowl; add slaw ingredients and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
2 whole boneless duck breasts, trimmed of excess fat and skin (score the skin through to the fat layer diagonally 3-4 times on each breast)
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 tbsp. crushed or finely minced garlic
6 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sweet (thick) soy sauce (if not available add 2 more tbsp of regular soy sauce and increase sugar by 1 tbsp)
3 tbsp. butter
salt & pepper
Season duck breast with salt and pepper to taste. Heat butter in a large, heavy bottomed skillet until it has melted and foam subsides. Lay the duck breasts into the skillet, skin side down (it should sizzle when touching the pan).
Maintain medium-high heat, so fat sizzles but doesn’t smoke; keep breasts skin side down until crispy and well-browned (from 5-10 minutes – keep an eye to prevent burning).
Drain all but 1 tbsp of fat and flip breasts over (cook for another 5 minutes). Check duck internal temperature – should be at 130-135 degrees to be completely cooked. If duck is still rare inside but outsides are done, move breasts to sheet pan and place in heated oven until desired temp is reached. Keep checking duck with meat thermometer every few minutes to prevent overcooking. Remove duck from oven and lest rest for 15 minutes before cutting meat.
Meanwhile, using same pan, add the shallots and saute until softened. Then add ginger and garlic for 30-60 seconds; followed by soy sauces and sugar. Cook for just a few minutes.
To serve: plate slaw with sliced duck breast; garnish breasts with shallot sauce.