Pairing fruit and duck hearkens back to older classics like duck with hot Morello cherries or with the bitter oranges of Moorish Andalusia fame. For me, it’s a tradition that still makes sense because the sweet acid of the fruit is a perfect foil to the richness of the duck.
The duck breast itself can be grilled, broiled, or sautéed. The points to remember are that the initial cooking on the bone renders out the fat, and that the final cooking is really just heating, letting the breast remain pink.
The honey flavors the skin and also helps to render out the fat, allowing the skin to become crisp. If you cannot get lavender honey, buy the best floral honey you can find, warm it, and infuse it with lavender flowers or rosemary leaves for ten minutes and then strain.
This recipe is even better if you smoke the breasts slightly first.
Rub the duck breasts all over with the salt mixture, and let sit for 30 minutes with the skin side down in the remaining salt.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place the breasts skin side up on a rack set on a sheet pan or roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes to render some of the fat from under the skin. Take the duck out of the oven and cool.
When the duck is cool enough to handle, carefully cut each half breast off the bone in
Rinse the breast bones under cold water to get rid of any salt, and then cut or smash them up. Put the bones in a
Meanwhile, put the honey and pepper in
Heat a frying pan to medium heat and put the duck pieces skin side down in the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn the heat down to low (or put in a preheated 350-degree oven) and cook until the duck is medium rare, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let the duck rest in a warm place for 5 minutes so that the juices are reabsorbed into the meat.
While the duck is resting, bring the sauce to a boil and add the water chestnuts. Simmer 1 minute, add the blackberries, and take off the stove. Stir in the butter and season.
Immediately pour the sauce with the blackberries and water chestnuts out onto four hot plates, then slice off the wing joints and slice the breasts across on a diagonal about
Use peeled and thinly sliced Jerusalem artichokes—steamed in butter and water for 5 minutes—instead of, or as well as, the water chestnuts. Or instead of the berries and water chestnuts, use mandarin orange sections, with
© 2002 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.