Monday, November 11, 2013

Roast Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce

Ok, so the bar has officially been raised.

We had dinner at Singer’s house on Wednesday and she made Roast Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce.  Yep, you read correctly.  It was quite fancy.

And tasty.

Now, I am ashamed to admit this, being a cook and all, but before Wednesday, I never (yep, I said never) had duck before. All I can say is, “what the hell have I been missing?”  Singer used organic duck breasts, and I am told it is a bit more flavorful than run-of-the-mill supermarket duck.  I wouldn’t know, never having had duck before.  To me, duck tastes a bit nuttier and gamier, than the most succulent, flavorful dark chicken or turkey meat you’ve ever had. 

This particular recipe is a bit sweet, courtesy of the pomegranates with a nip of heat, thanks to the chile.  Even though the name of the recipe seems a bit intimidating (I walked into the kitchen and saw the recipe sitting on the counter and thought, “damn, she must have been cooking all day!”), it’s actually pretty easy and straight forward, having less ingredients than most fancy recipes. 

Pomegranates are filled with beautiful and delicious red seeds.  To open the fruit, score the perimeter with a knife and pop it open.  The seeds reside in a white pulp and separate more easily in a bowl of water…the ruby rewards detach from the pulp and sink to the bottom of the bowl.  Our trusty friends at Trader Joe’s have done this work for us, 5.3 oz. for $3.99, and no staining of your hands and clothes!  Pomegranate seeds are sweet, crunchy, and full of antioxidants.  Also, they are blood builders and are believed to be useful for stopping gum and nose bleeds….I wish I would have had some pomegranate seeds a few weeks ago when I walked into a wall and my nose bled for twenty minutes. 

Roast Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups refrigerated pomegranate juice (such as Pom)
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 large dried California chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin (not toasted)
Coarse kosher salt

8 5-to 6-ounce boneless duck breast halves, skin and fat trimmed to size of breast
Coarse kosher salt
Ground coriander
Fresh pomegranate seeds

For sauce:
Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, swirling pan occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add juice, broth, and California chiles. Boil until sauce is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Puree in tightly covered blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Whisk in adobo sauce, vinegar, and cumin. Season to taste with generous amount of coarse salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before using.

For duck:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Score skin of duck (don't cut into flesh) with 5 cuts in 1 direction; repeat in opposite direction, making diamond pattern. Sprinkle duck all over with coarse salt, pepper, and ground coriander. Place 2 large ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat. Add duck, skin side down, to skillets, dividing equally. Cook duck until skin is crisp and deep brown, about 7 minutes. Turn duck over; cook 1 minute. Pour off fat. Transfer skillets to oven. Roast duck until cooked to mediumrare, about 5 minutes.

Transfer duck to cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice each breast crosswise on slight diagonal. Arrange slices on plates. Spoon sauce over. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

This. Dish. Is. Amazing.

For dessert, we had pumpkin tartlets and they were deliciously flaky and quite tasty.  That sounds like a commercial, but they were really good.

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