This is an easy riff on steak au poivre, made not with beef but with a large, meaty Muscovy duck breast rubbed with a healthy amount of crushed black peppercorns and garlic. The duck is given a beautiful crisp skin in a cast-iron pan and cooked to a rosy medium-rare. Sliced and topped with a simple parsley salad, it makes a generous main course for two or three, or a smaller serving for four.
With a sharp knife, remove the tenderloin from the underside of the duck breast and reserve for another purpose. Trim any ragged bits or gristle. Turn the breast over and trim any excess fat from the edges. Score the skin by making shallow diagonal cuts,
Season on both sides with the salt, then massage with the garlic paste. Press the crushed peppercorns evenly over both sides. Put the duck on a platter and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or refrigerate overnight (if the latter, bring to room temperature before cooking).
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. After 5 minutes, when the pan is hot, carefully add the duck breast skin side down and let it begin to sizzle. Using tongs, check to see that the skin is not browning too quickly, and reduce the heat as necessary. Be careful, the duck breast will render a fair amount of hot fat. The skin should be golden and crisp after 6 or 7 minutes. Turn the breast over and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes (when the rendered duck fat has cooled a bit, strain into a jar and save for future use). Cut at an angle into ¼-inch-thick slices and arrange on a platter. Top with the parsley salad and serve.
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