A few times a week, Todd cooks dinner for us since he gets home from work earlier than I do. Lately we’ve been drooling over duck dishes when we go out to restaurants, so he suggested that he try to make it at home. But since we’d never made duck before, we decided to find a recipe to guide us through it. After browsing through several cookbooks (we now have so many that they don’t fit on the shelves of our bookcase and are stacked on the floor), we settled on a roasted duck recipe from Drew Ramsey’s Eat Complete. Here’s the recipe (modified slightly from the original), and some special guest commentary from Todd on his cooking experience.
For the duck:
~1 thick duck breast, approximately 1 lb. (NOTE: The original recipe called for four smaller breasts, which would have taken less time to cook, but Todd wasn’t able to find that at our local grocery store. If you can find that, I’d recommend going that route, and only cooking the duck in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes in Step 6, below.)
~1 tsp. kosher salt
~1 tsp. black pepper
~1 tsp. paprika
~1 tsp. garlic powder
For the cherry sauce:
~1 Tbsp. olive oil
~4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
~1 cup pitted sweet cherries
~1/2 cup water
~1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Using a sharp knife, score the fat of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern; do not pierce the meat. Rub spice mixture on all sides of the duck breast.
Todd says: “Cutting the duck was super easy, since the fat is easy to cut through. But it has enough give that you won’t reach the actual meat unless you use a ton of force. So don’t worry!”
4. Place duck breasts, fat side down, in a cold oven-safe skillet. Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the fat starts to melt out.
5. Reduce heat to medium and cook until crisp, about 8 more minutes. Flip and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned. Pour off any excess fat.
6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees (for medium to well-done). This took us about 15 minutes, though cooking times will varying depending on the thickness of your duck and on your oven.
Todd says: “Cooking the duck in general was a good experience, but it was hectic because duck fat goes EVERYWHERE. So much splatter!”
Chris adds: ” I came home to an oil-splattered stove AND oven. Luckily the duck that Todd cooked tasted yummy enough that I could forgive him.”
7. In the meantime, coat a small pan with olive oil. Add garlic and cook over medium-heat until garlic starts to brown.
8. Add cherries and water to pan, cover, and cook until cherries soften, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until cherries begin to break apart.
Todd says: “The cherry sauce was delicious. It had the right notes of garlic and vanilla, with both working well with the sweet cherry. This was also really easy to make.”
9. Let duck rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with cherry sauce drizzled on top.