Wild Game Recipe: Pan Roasted Duck with Corn Crepes and Sage, Sour Cherry Sauce
Duck is one of my favorite wild game to hunt, to cook and to eat. Whether domestic pekin, muscovy or moulard, or true wild duck, it is flavorful, versatile, and, provided you cook it properly, lean. This recipe is really a summer recipe, but if you have a good supply of sweet corn, it will do fine anytime of year.
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For this recipe, I use either muscovy duck, a brazilian breed which is known for its incredible flavor and lean profile, or wild-hunted duck. Other breeds, such as moulard or pekin, will do fine, but be aware that the principal difference among these types of duck is the fat cap underneath the skin. With any breed of duck, to cook it properly, you want to render the fat from under the skin of the breast at a cooking temperature and time that will allow the skin to brown perfectly, once all the excess fat is rendered away. For all breeds, lightly score the duck breast, skin side, so that the skin is pierced (freeing the fat to render away), without going into the flesh of the breast. To do this, you will need a sharp knife. Score the breast at 45 deg. angles, so you end up with a diamond pattern on the skin side of the breast.
To prep the duck for cooking, score it and season it with salt and pepper on both sides. Allow the duck to rest for 30 minutes. When you are ready to serve, do not add butter or oil to your pan - just set the duck, skin side down, in the pan and cook over low to moderate heat. As the fat renders away, pour it off. You want to adjust your heat, and your time in cooking the skin side, so that most of the fat is rendered about the time your skin is browned nicely.
6 hen breasts, or 3 drake breasts (of moulard or muscovy), each portion being app. 8 ounces, uncooked.
4 cups corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cups milk
3 tbsp melted butter
nutmeg (couple of pinches)
4 tbsp minced chives
Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add corn, salt and pepper and cover, cooking about 3-4 minutes and tossing through a couple of times. Process in food processor and cool. Once cool, add flour, eggs, milk, butter and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Fold in minced chives. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Prepare crepes with olive oil in non-stick per s.o.p. Cool and set aside. At service, take 3 crepes and reheat gently. Fold into triangles.
Sage-Sour Cherry Sauce
2 cups pinot noir or good burgundy
1/3 c shallot, minced
1 cup sliced, dried tart cherries
2 cups duck demi-glace, 4 cups (thin) duck stock, or 2 cups demi-glace (more than gourmet will work o.k.)
1 tsp minced sage
pinch of minced thyme
1/3 tsp balsamic vinegar
Simmer wine with shallots, cherries and duck sauce until reduced back to 2 cups. At service, bring 2 ounces of sauce (with cherries) to simmer and toss in sage, thyme and balsamic vinegar together and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Fleur de Sel (top layer, harvested sea salt, if you have it)
Sear duck as above. Once skin is browned and fat is rendered, "kiss" flesh side approximately 1 minute and place in oven. Remove from oven when duck breast still has a good deal of easy "spring" to the touch - you do not want to go beyond medium (I prefer medium rare). Remove the duck from the cooking/roasting pan and cover loosely with foil, shiny side out. Meanwhile, reheat crepes in a pan with a touch of olive oil, fold in triangles, and place in overlapping mound at center of plate. You also want to saute some coarsely chopped rainbow chard, which adds some caramelized sugar, bitterness, and color to the plate (use organic if possible - it will contain more natural sugars). Thinly slice duck and arrange on either side of crepes; drizzle with warmed sauce (including cherries), and place a few crystals of fleur de sel over the meat (if you have it).
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