Lord love a duck
It’s fowl, but it tastes like steak! Which means that your mammal abstaining dinner guests may eat it, and if they don’t, all the more for you!
Expensive? Yes and no. At around $10 per pound for a breast, duck is far cheaper than a decent cut of beef and only slightly more expensive than organic boneless chicken breasts. Plus, because it’s so rich, one half of a large breast (pictured right here!) easily feeds two healthy adults. I always keep one in the freezer.
Still not sold? I think you’re just a-scared. No need! Cooking duck breasts could not be simpler. Nigella has a nice recipe for gingery duck salad if you’re in the mood for a little spice (especially tasty in summer), but here’s the easiest way I know to prepare duck.
Oven Roasted Duck Breast
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Take a sharp knife and score the fat of the duck breast. In other words, cut through the skin and into the fat, stopping short of the flesh, in a crisscross or diamond pattern, depending on your mood. Sprinkle the duck with a little salt and pepper.
- Now, find a good heavy skillet that can be put in the oven. (I use a big old cast iron number that weighs about 50 pounds, but it’s all in service of presentable arms and a firm bust. Just remember to lift with your legs not your back, whatever that means.)
- Heat the skillet over medium high-ish flame and plop in the breast, fat side down. After about five or six minutes you should have a big pool of fat in the skillet. This is good. You will also have a big greasy mess on your stove, which is not good, but remember the vacuity of life without struggle and all that.
- Pour off most of the fat and keep it handy in a bowl or something.
- Now, put the pan back on the flame and put in the breast, flesh side down, to sear for about a minute or two.
- Turn the breast back over (fat side down) and pop the skillet in the oven for about 8 minutes (for medium rare) – more if you like your duck well done, less if you prefer it bloodier. If you want, you can strew some finely sliced onions around it, or not.
- Once you remove the pan from the oven, let the duck sit on a cutting board for a few minutes – this seems unnecessary, but it helps everything settle a bit. Then just slice and serve. I like a little cranberry sauce with my duck.
Easy spuds: This is the perfect opportunity to use those leftover potatoes from the night before. (BTW, always make more potatoes than you need – they are the best leftovers around.) After searing the duck breast (Step 5 above), take it out of the skillet for a minute while you fry the potatoes in the pan with the duck fat. If you need more fat, just drizzle in some from the bowl I told you not to throw out in Step 4. They only need a couple of minutes. Once they start to crisp on one side, flip ‘em over and return the duck to the pan and bung the whole thing in the oven. Let me tell you, until you’ve had potatoes roasted in duck fat, you have not lived.