Monday, September 04, 2006

Duck sounds so complicated

But it's not.

Sunday night I headed to the grocery store, list in hand to make a Czech-Mex dinner - chicken, tacos and salsa fresca. Will wanted to use up our taco shells and I thought it might be a good way to distract myself from thoughts of French food. When I got home though, I found that the chicken breasts I thought I’d bought had welded themselves together into one large duck breast, with bones. We nixed Mexican and decided to see what our cookbooks might recommend.

They didn’t. A duck complete was called for in all instances. Epicurious however, had several suggestions. And I finally found a use for the multitude of fennel seeds in our larder (in Prague, the spice sold as "cumin" is in fact fennel.* We have accidentally accumulated enough to season several potato fields).

1 duck breast, deboned (cooking shears make this an easy job)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp, fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp, fennel seeds, ground (caraway seeds work too)
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cooking twine (finally found a use for the string that comes with Will’s favorite French sausages)

Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
Wash, dry, salt and pepper your duck. Place it on a plate, skin side down.
In a small bowl, combine garlic, rosemary and fennel with enough olive oil to make it all stick together. Rub seasoning into meat. Don’t be shy, really rub it in, your taste buds will thank you later.
Roll up duck, skin side out. Secure with string. Two seem to work.

Heat oven-proof skillet over medium high heat on the stove. When skillet is hot, add the duck roll. Brown for about 10 minutes, turning to make sure every side gets toasty looking. When nice and brown, pour off fat and pop skillet (and duck!) into hot oven. Roast for 15 minutes, turning duck every now and then. Remove from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes. Only then, snip off twine, unroll duck and slice. - Makes enough for 2 adults plus 1 slightly picky 3 year old.

So incredibly simple. You don’t even need a sauce because duck is tremendously juicy and drippy (also why you don’t need to oil the skillet). Will licked his plate clean. I forgave the Czech grocery stores for not being in France, and when Caroline finished she said "ok, kde je moje pain au chocolat?" (Where is my chocolate croissant in Czechfrenchlish).

*Actually, the spice sold as cumin (kmín) is in fact caraway seed, as Dana quite rightly points out here. Will claims confusion and says he gets caraway and fennel mixed up in English too. Just to let you know, the caraway seeds tasted great with the duck.


Jess said...

I'm with Caroline on the chocolate croissant. Mmm. Although the duck also sounds delicious.

Julia said...

It is, and besides being easy to make, requires no sauce. I'm not a sauce making fan, generally because by the time the meat is ready I'm too hungry to have the patience to wait for it!