This dish could equally well use the fig-mint relish, the cherry chutney, the tomato chutney, or the tomato vinaigrette made with shallots. The duck breast itself could be grilled, broiled, or sautéed. The point is to cook the breast so that it is still pink, the skin is crisp, and there is just a little bit of fat under the skin for flavor. And if you don’t have wild rice, use the vegetable ragout, or the red cabbage salad.
Heat the oven to 450°F or the broiler.
Season the duck breasts (ideally with a little of the salt mixture used in the preceding confit recipe). Place them skin side up on a rack on a sheet pan or roasting pan. Bake or broil for 10 minutes to render some of the fat from under the skin. Let the duck cool.
Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water, salt it, and put in the wild rice. Boil, stirring the rice a few times, until tender, about 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Drain the rice, toss thoroughly with the butter, and put in an ovenproof casserole. Cover and bake for 15 minutes, stirring and fluffing the rice twice. Uncover the rice, stir again, and bake for another 15 minutes, stirring 2 more times to ensure that the rice grains are separate and firm.
While the rice is cooking, bone the duck breasts, leaving on the wing joints, so that you have 4 pieces. When the rice is done, heat a frying pan and put the duck pieces skin side down in the pan. Cook over high heat for 3 minutes; then turn down the heat and cook until the duck is medium rare, about 2 more minutes. Let the duck rest in a warm place for 5 minutes so that the juices are reabsorbed into the meat. Then slice off the wing joints and slice the breasts. Fan the slices on warm plates. Serve the wild rice alongside and spoon some mango-chili salsa on each plate. Garnish with the watercress.
© 1986 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.