Yes to Yummy

The Perfect Duck Breast

April 14, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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I love duck in pretty much every form, from smoked duck to foie gras to everything in between. A lot of people are intimidated to make it because they claim it’s too time consuming or fatty, but this duck breast is both fast and pretty lean once you sear it. Push your worries aside and give it a try!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and stick a dry cast iron skillet in there while the oven heats up. This will insure that the pan is hot enough when you’re ready to cook the duck, creating a crispy exterior.

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Before you do anything else, create a rub for the skin. You won’t taste much of it, but the flavor will still be noticeable. Today, I used 1/2 tablespoon of decaf coffee grounds, 1/2 tablespoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon of raw cacao powder, and a good pinch of salt. Whisk in a small bowl to combine and set aside.

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Now, prepare the duck breasts by making diagonal cuts through the fatty outer layer without piercing the meat itself. Do not skip this step, or else the fat won’t render properly. Then pour half of the rub on each side of the breast and massage it with your hands to evenly cover.

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With oven mitts (unless you want to burn yourself), remove the cast iron from the oven and put on high heat on the stove top. Do not turn off the oven. Let the skillet adjust to the stove top for a minute or two, then add the duck breast skin-side down. Sear for six minutes.

When dark brown on the other side, remove the duck breasts from the pan and pour off most of the accumulated fat. I usually save this stuff to add flavor to roasted vegetables, but if the idea totally grosses you out, pour it into a cup and let cool prior to tossing it out.

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Return the duck breasts to the pan and cook on the other side for another six minutes. Then, place in the oven and let cook until the internal temperature is between 125 and 130 degrees. This time varies—for me, it usually takes an additional 7 to 10 minutes, but it could take more or less depending on the thickness of your duck and how long your oven’s been heated.

When cooked to your liking, let cool on a cutting board tented with tinfoil for 5 to 10 minutes, then slice and serve. Squeeze with a little bit of lime juice for some extra zing.

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Alongside the duck, I took two seemingly boring root vegetables, carrots and parsnips, and elevated them to a new level in Roasted Parsnip Mash and Sweet and Spicy Baby Carrots.

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To prepare the parsnips, heat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a baking sheet with coconut oil. Cut a pound of parsnips into thin coins, about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick. You can peel the parsnips if you want, but I just left the skins on.

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Place the parsnips on the prepared sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, a good pinch of salt, and some black pepper. Bake until golden brown and soft in the center, about 35 minutes, giving a stir every ten minutes or so.

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Transfer the parsnips to a blender or food processor. Pulse until chunky, about two minutes, then add 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter and 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth and process until thick and beginning to smooth out, about 3 minutes.

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If necessary, pour in additional water or chicken broth to achieve your desired consistency. Finally, add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of paprika (depending on how spicy you want it), a good pinch of salt, and a crack of black pepper. Blend for another two minutes and serve warm.

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To make the carrots, heat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a large baking sheet with coconut oil. 

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Place the baby carrots on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted lard or ghee. Top with 1 teaspoon of turmeric,  1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and a good pinch of salt. Toss together to fully distribute the spices.

Bake until beginning to brown and soft, but not mushy in the center, about 30 minutes. 

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Simple ingredients, easy preparation, elegant results. Yum!

What’s your favorite root vegetable? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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