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.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fifty-fifth Post ~ Honey Balsamic Glazed Duck with Mushrooms

I searched online for a bit today to find some new ideas for duck. I have used fruit and wine reductions a number of times and wanted to try something different... I read many ideas, and blended this and that into the recipe that was tonight's dinner.

Here's what you'll need:
~ 1 duck breast
~ Balsamic vinegar
~ Honey
~ Olive oil
~ Coarse ground sea salt
~ Nutmeg
~ one or two cloves
~ Fresh thyme
~ Fresh rosemary
~ Small amount minced onion
~ Pre-washed, pre-sliced mushrooms

In a stick-free pan, start a small amount of olive oil sizzling. Mince the onion. Prep the duck.

:: PAUSE ::

Now, I'm not passing judgement here, but the duck is one... shall we say insulated bird. I am normally clueless about what to do with the cushion of fat on a duck breast. Why does duck a l'orange come with such a lovely crispy skin? The trick, I've learned, is in scoring the fat. With a really sharp knife, cut a crisscross pattern in the fat (which, all these years, I thought was decorative, but actually serves a purpose). The slices allow the fat to melt as it's cooked, rendering a nice crispy skin. I've yet to completely master this art, but I've come the closest this time than ever before to a nice crispy duck breast. Practice makes perfect, I say!


So score the duck and place it skin-side down in the oil. Jump back and nurse your teensie little oil burns. One never learns.

Let the duck sit like that for a few minutes while you toss in the onion and mushrooms. Grind on some salt, and splash a healthy amount of balsamic vinegar over the whole deal. Add the fresh thyme and a small amount (you don't want this to be the predominant flavor) of rosemary.

Now, the fun part. Pour on the honey. Don't be shy. The consistency of the pan's contents will instantly change. It seems that everything gets slower; the sizzling is less intense, the oil gently simmers, and everything melds into a lovely, dark, sweet, caramelized sauce. It was at this point that I was inspired to toss a clove into the mix and grind on some nutmeg with my neat little grinder that I picked up when I was in the West Indies along with these dark, lovely, rich little seeds.

Flip the duck breast and continue simmering everything together. At some point, you may wish to remove the sauce and mushrooms from the pan, place them in a prep bowl, and continue cooking the duck until it's fully done (when the juices run clear).

Serve with the mushrooms and sauce poured over the top. Given that this meal was obviously inspired by a mad sweet tooth, I decided to go with the "compliment" method of wine pairing tonight and enjoyed the duck with a white catawba that Meg and I picked up in Ferrera vineyards in Ohio. It added a nice fruity note to the meal, without being too sweet but not tart, either.

All in all, a satisfying meal!

Yours in the love of good 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.