I’d never prepared duck until bestowed with the occasional Gadwall by our 71-year old neighbor, Phil. He is an avid duck hunter and keeps me apprised of his travails & exploits on the local preserves when the season begins.
For the past three autumns, he’ll bring over one or two ducks and I’ll try to prep them: I’ve barbecued (poor execution), bbq’d on a grill pan (better), oven roasted (burnt, chewy) and pan roasted (better), but never really executed well. Duck is a finicky bird, because it needs to be crisp on the outside – the skin/fat is just too thick to tolerate anything less than a perfect crisp, but the inside can not be overdone due to immediate gamey/toughness. If it’s underdone, however, it’s raw and stringy. Tough bird.
Then I found Roy Choi’s recipe in L.A. Son. The entire recipe was a bit more complex, but he stressed the simplicity of the duck prep. Lo and behold, Phil brought over the first duck of the season this past weekend, and the restauranteur Choi’s recipe was absolutely beautiful. And simple!
This recipe below is actually the day after duck legs with a little creativity, but the prep results from the recipe. Check it:
- 2 duck breasts
- mixed baby greens
- seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
- soy sauce
- ponzu sauce
- balsamic vinegar
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- identify skin side of duck breast – salt and pepper liberally.
- salt and pepper back side of breast sparingly
- preheat oven to 200°
- score breast so you pierce the skin but not endanger the meat
- heat skillet to low and place duck breasts, skin side down
- gradually work heat up to medium-high. the oil/fat from the breast will lubricate the meat
- once the duck starts exuding fat, time 6-7 minutes, checking intermittently to see if your breast is sufficiently brown
- mix soy, balsamic, honey, ponzu – quantities to taste
- SAFELY, drain oil/fat from your skillet, taking care to preserve for bacon or potatoes in the near future.
- once skin is crisp, sear on non-skin side for 2-3minutes
- place pan into oven for 6-7 minutes
- remove from heat, place duck on plate and tent with foil to rest for five minutes
- serve over mixed baby greens, drizzle with sauce and dig in