In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thirty-eighth Post ~ Duck with Pear and Walnut Dressing

Tonight in class, I created an analogy using Duck à l'Orange. My students have pretty much come to the conclusion that I'm a dork (albeit, I'd like to think, a likeable dork), so that's not really the point of the story.

The point of the story is that as of 8:00 tonight, I began thinking about duck. Therefore, I peeled out of the UB parking lot and headed over to Wegmans, where I bought some duck and a pear.

This is one of those meals that looks a lot more time-intensive than it actually is. Here's what you'll need for tonight's meal:

~ Duck (preferably a breast, skin on or off. I cooked this one with the skin on, but cut it off before I ate it.)
~ Pear (I bought one smallish bosc pear, but I was really hoping for some Seckel pears, but have been unable to find them at Wegmans since I cooked with them once a few months ago)
~ Seasonal dried fruit (I used raisins and cranberries)
~ White wine (I used chardonnay)
~ Apple juice (or cider)
~ Walnuts
~ Olive oil
~ Spices (sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove)
~ Fresh thyme (or dried)

Slice up your pear. Toss it in a stick-free pan with some olive oil, chard and sugar. Add the nuts and dried fruit. Sprinkle liberally with whatever spices you fancy. Add a sprig of thyme. Keep moving it around so it doesn't scorch. As it runs low on liquid, add some apple juice so it remains sweet and fruity and doesn't become too acidic.

In a separate pan, brown the duck in a little oil, thyme and wine. Salt and pepper it.

Once your fruit and walnuts are bubbling at that dangerously hot temperature that only cooking with sugar and oil can produce, move everything around to create a spot in the center for the duck. Place it in the pan carefully with the thyme and oil from the pan you browned it in, and slap on a well-fitting lid with a steam hole.

That's it.

Seriously. Keep checking it every so often, stir it around, take the duck out to check if it's done, but really, this whole meal is a pretty laissez-faire kind of dish.

Once it's done, serve it on a plate with the fruit and walnut dressing all around it. Garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme if you wish. I would recommend scattering a bit of thyme over it once it's served, as it adds a nice fresh taste to the dish.

I served this meal with a chardonnay by Pepperwood Grove, an international wine negotiant that brings us affordable wines from a number of different countries. This chard is Californian, making it fruit-forward, but also oaky enough to balance the earthy taste of the duck and the walnuts.

Overall, this meal encompasses all of the rustic tastes of autumn that I so dearly love!

Yours in the love of food and wine,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.