Saturday, May 14, 2011

Duck Breast

Duck breast is my favorite meat of all time.  I do love flat iron steak for its affordability, its leanness, and I don't have to drive across town to get it.  But when I can indulge a little, I trek over to The Heights area and pick up my favorite: Maple Leaf Farms White Pekin Duck Breast.  When cooked medium rare, it is tender dark meat that absorbs flavors well, and I often cook it Asian style or with Mediterranean accompaniments.
It's healthy, too!  This specific duck breast without skin has almost the same amount of calories as a turkey breast without skin.  I've read all the books - that is about the best you can get.  If you normally look at saturated fat grams, it's nearly equal to chicken breast without skin.  Click on the link above for more info!

I recently discovered that my usual place on Kavanaugh no longer carried the four pack of duck breast in their freezer.  I checked back several times, even called, and to my disappointment after all these years, I was back on the hunt for high quality duck breast that is already deboned and sold individually.

Luckily, I found it in a 2-pack in the freezer at Hestand's.  I also found a different breed at Terri's Finer Foods.  The guys in the meat department there stressed heavily that the brand they carried is the highest quality that you can get, and it's fresh, never frozen.  I wanted to believe them because I like that they have fish flown in fresh 3 days a week.  But I was still partial to my brand.

So I tried the D'artagnan Moulard Fresh Magret that they carried.  I marinated all the duck breasts the same way, cooked them together, and had my neighbors Stacy & Ashley come over to help me decide which was better.  Ashley actually liked both brands, and had no preference.  But Stacy chose the Maple Leaf Farms white pekin breed.  However, I liked them both.  They were equally tender, full of flavor, and they had absorbed the marinade well.

Duck hunting is a huge pastime in Arkansas BTW.  The Mallard breed of duck that guys flock together to find in Stuttgart, AR is "smaller and tougher" than the Pekin, but with an extra day of marinading, I find that it is less gamey tasting.  I love it when my neighbors give me free duck breast after they return from their duck club!

Terri's also serves the foie gras - yielding Moulard Duck at their restaurant in the back of the store.  This indicates to me that it must be a great eatery.  Some of the best restaurants that I've dined at have carried duck breast or foie gras on their menus.  In NYC, some of these that I've been to include: Gramercy TavernL'Atelier, Asia de Cuba, and 21 Club.    

For delicious, low-fat duck breast, score the skin with a good, sharp knife.  Be sure not to cut into the meat.
Place the breasts into a large Ziploc bag.  (See here that the Moulard breast is larger than the Pekin breasts.)  Add soy sauce, freshly minced garlic, freshly grated ginger, sesame oil, and the juice of half a lime.  Marinate overnight.

When you're ready to cook the breasts, remove them from the refrigerator and let sit about 20 minutes.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Pan sear the breasts fat side down on high heat for 6 minutes, then turn for about 3 more minutes on the other side.
Place the duck breasts onto a foil - lined pan, and roast an additional 10 minutes.  Then remove to a cutting board and let rest about 15 minutes.
Duck breast is great served alone with a side dish such as a vegetable, or with noodles, or in Vietnamese Spring Rolls.

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