Happy New Year!

It is finally winter in Tucson and, while it is chilly, it doesn’t mean we need to suffer when it comes to finding fresh produce.

Or duck, for that matter. I bought a couple of beautiful duck breasts from Top Knot Farms at the Sunday farmers market, where I also picked up some clementines, oranges, a pomegranate, and a Romanesco cauliflower.

A very special meal came about from these ingredients.

Susan was visiting with her daughter Alex, and this duck seemed like a perfect match for one of the wines they brought (from Provence) as a host gift: a 2014 Fazioli from Château La Mascaronne.

You can read about it in my Wine with Food column in the Provence WineZine.

Cooking duck is super easy - it takes just minutes. And there are many sauces that go well with it - fruit, caramel, and wine, to name a few.

The seasonal beurre blanc I served was silky with the pop of pomegranate seeds, which also added a lovely contrasting color.

Treat yourself this New Year, and give this recipe a try!

~ David

Duck with Clementine-Pomegranate Beurre Blanc

1/2 cup clementine juice (from 5-6 juicy clementines) or orange juice
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup white wine
1 large shallot, minced
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
2 12-ounce duck breasts
salt and pepper
suprèmes (segments without membrane) of 1 orange

seeds from 1/2 pomegranate - about 2/3 cup
crema di baslamico, for plate decoration

Place clementine juice, lemon juice, wine, and shallot in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, but keep sauce boiling till reduced to a syrup - about 2-3 tablespoons. Strain the syrup through a sieve into a clean saucepan. Over low heat, whisk in 4 tablespoons chilled butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to emulsify. Season with a little salt and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Heat a skillet on the stove top over medium-high heat. When hot, pat the duck breast dry, season on both sides with salt and pepper, and place it in the skillet, skin side down. Don’t be startled if it pops and “dances” a bit in the skillet - that is just excess moisture! Cook for 4-5 minutes, until skin is nicely browned. Turn the duck breast skin-side up, sear on the stove top for 30 seconds, then place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes (for medium rare). Remove the duck form the oven and cover to rest. While the duck is resting, return the sauce to the heat and, when it begins to simmer, add the final 2 tablespoons butter, one at a time, whisking until creamy. Add the orange segments and pomegranate seeds.

Slice the duck and fan five slices on each of four plates. Spoon sauce over top, dividing the orange segments evenly. Place dots of crema di balsamico around the edges - both for decoration, and for flavor!

Serves 4.

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