Do you ever make duck at home? Or is it the type of thing you would only ever think to order in a really fancy French restaurant?
Duck must have a bad rap in America. It’s the only reason I can think of that more home cooks don’t make duck at home. People must assume it is expensive, but a package with 2 boneless breasts is only $9.99. As duck is so rich, a little goes a long way, and two breasts is plenty of food for a dinner for two.
When I was living in Ohio, I was struck by the limited variety of meat available at most supermarkets. The meat case would be filled with row after row of plump pink boneless chicken breasts and packages of ground beef in various shapes and sizes. Finding pork and lamb was a serious challenge, and finding duck breasts was nothing short of a miracle.
Whenever I find a package of frozen duck breasts, I pounce and stock up to fill my freezer. It’s a great meat to have on hand for last minute dinners. In 20 minutes, you can be forking rich and tasty little morsels of duck into your mouth, with an amazing sauce that will be better than what you’d find at most neighborhood French restaurants. And if you want a real treat, save the duck fat from the pan to whip up some decadent pan fried potatoes.
This recipe for 20-minute honey duck is from the new Dorie Greenspan cookbook: Around my French Table which is filled with easy to make French home cooking recipes, more than enough comfort food to get you through this winter. I enjoyed Dorie’s stories of her love affair with France almost more than the recipes; she describes the cooking of my childhood perfectly. I had the pleasure of having coffee with Dorie and a handful of other local Dorie fans two weeks ago, and she is even nicer in person than she seems on her blog.
This duck recipe really does take 15-20 minutes and it’s so good, I guarantee that you will lick the plate. And with all the sweet flavors in these recipes, your kids will lick the plate too, and amaze your friends at the playground when they ask you to make duck again soon.
Dorie Greenspan’s 20 Minute Honey Duck
4 small boneless duck breasts
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
juice of 1 lime
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. (No, not a typo – just to warm it).
- Using the point of a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a crosshatch pattern, cutting deeply into the layer of fat but taking care not to nick the meat. Season both sides of the breast with salt and pepper.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. You could use a regular pan here, but the Dutch oven really helps with the spattering. When the pan is really hot and a drop of water dance and evaporate quickly, add the duck breasts, skin side down. Cook for 8 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crisp.
- Turn the pieces over and cook for 3 minutes more for very rare breasts that will cook a little more in the oven. I know it sounds strange to cook a bird to medium-rare, but trust me on this, well done duck is very, very tough.
- Lift the breasts out of the Dutch oven and place onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Seal them loosely in the foil and put in the oven to keep warm.
- When you are ready to eat, remove the duck from the oven.
- Pour off most of the fat from the pan and set aside for use in another recipe (I used it as a base for the carrots you see in the picture). Put the dutch oven back over medium heat. When the remaining fat in the dutch oven is warm, stir in the balsamic, honey, and lime juice, along with any duck juices at the bottom of the aluminum foil. Cook, stirring constantly and vigorously with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Return the breasts to the dutch oven and turn once, cooking each side about 30 seconds.
- Slice the duck and drizzle the sauce on top. Serve immediately.
Quick and Easy Honey Carrots
1 bunch of carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slives (rondelles)
4 tablespoons of honey
- Put a frying pan on the burner at medium-high heat. When hot, pour the duck fat into a frying pan. If you don’t have duck fat, then just use butter, about 2 tablespoons.
- Once the fat is melted, add the carrots and stir well to coat. Pour the honey on top.
- Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the carrots are becoming soft. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve immediately.