Tuesday, December 8, 2009

THE PERFECT DUCK BREAST

Leia em PORTUGUÊS



Do you eat duck? Well, I don't didn't. Cooking with duck in Brazil, at least in my area (Rio de Janeiro), isn't very frequent. All I had heard about duck dishes in Brazil was the famous Duck in Tucupi, Tucupi being a liquid that is extracted from wild cassavas (I didn't know that either, had to research), which is a typical dish from the North region of the country. If you want to eat this dish in other regions you have to go to a specialized restaurant.

Another fact that proves that duck is not very popular in Rio is that it isn't very easy to find, unless you go to a huge supermarket and maybe you will find one or two hidden somewhere in the poultry freezer section. Also, I can't remember my mother ever making duck in our home. Neither can I recall seeing duck dishes in restaurants unless I was so uninterested that my eyes simply passed them. But things have changed to me now.


Just the other day I bought a smoked duck here in Korea, not that I actually wanted duck, but I thought it was chicken! I used it anyway to make Gumbo for a Daring Kitchen challenge. Since then, I see duck very differently because it was simply delicious. So, this time it was quite easy to go ahead and buy a whole fresh duck to play around a little.

I made a little research here and there and learned a few interesting things. Obviously, you can roast a duck as you do a turkey, for example, for a long time on low heat. Because ducks have a much higher amount of fat than turkeys and chicken, it usually results in a moist and tender meat as it usually occurs with fatty meats. I have also learned that the duck breast is much more tender thus cooks faster. On the other hand, the legs should be cooked slowly and for longer periods. So, I decided to start off my experiments with the duck breast.

I followed the tips and tricks of two sources: Maple Leaf Farms and a video of Gordon Ramsey

I cut up the duck as follows:

From left to right and from top to bottom, respectively, two duck legs, two wings, and the breast divided in two halves, (skin side up, and flesh side up).

I separated the breasts and refrigerated the other parts for another use later (coming up soon!)

First step was to preheat the oven at 400°F (200°C) while preparing the duck. I also put an empty oven proof dish in the oven to preheat as well.

I scored the skin of the duck breast and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


I placed the breasts, skin side down, in a COLD skillet without any oil. Then, I turned on the heat to low to allow the fat to render slowly and start crisping up the skin. At this stage, the fat began splattering, so I improvised a rack with some paper towels to save myself some extra work cleaning up the kitchen. It worked pretty well.


When the skin was golden and crispy (about 10 minutes later), I turned the breasts over for only a couple of minutes to seal.


I removed the empty dish from the oven and placed the duck breasts in it, skin side down, then returned the dish to the oven to finish cooking for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted read 165°F (73°C) on the thickest part of the meat. I removed the dish from the oven and waited around 5 minutes before slicing so that the juices remained inside, and served it immediately.

The result was succulent, delicious, and quick, and if you are not a fan of duck yet, you will be converted like I was.

Obs:
According to some online sources, duck fat is considered one of the healthiest fats and can be used as a substitute to butter for sauteing vegetables, for example. So, you can store the rendered fat in a jar in the refrigerator and use when you need it. I will try it very soon.


3 comments:

  1. I love duck, even if I don't cook it often. I prepare exactly like you, there's no better way.
    Delicious recipe hon a wish you a nice weekend. Big hug from Spain!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great intro tutorial to duck Renata. I love duck but have never cooked it by fear of ruining it. Now I have to try. I have a container of duck fat in the fridge, they sell it everywhere here now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've only roasted a whole duck once, but I've always wanted to cook the breast in a pan like you have. I don't care much for duck meat myself, but I know the husband would go mad over what you've cooked, Renata!

    ReplyDelete

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