For some reason, although I almost always serve the same cut, it almost always comes from the same farm, and I think, except for the finishing herb or micro green, I’ve always used the same basic recipe, the duck breasts I cook taste a little differently each time.
This might not be unexpected in the real world of small-scale farming, but this time I might credit it partly to my taking more time than I normally do in scoring the fat on top of the meat. Smaller islands of caramelized fat must have helped in an enjoyment of both the textures and the taste. The obvious ‘fancy-ham’ pattern in the picture above describes what I mean: The piece of duck (half of a 12-ounce breast) shown was only about 3 inches across.
The Brussels sprouts were our first of the fall. They came on a 2-foot stalk, but were nevertheless quite small, took very little time in the oven, and were absolutely fine.
The golden heirloom tomato was more delicate than I had been prepared for, or else I was distracted and just left it on the hot grill pan a little too long, so it ended up looking less like a tomato in that same picture, but it definitely tasted like a great one, and the seasoning I used amplified its virtues.
- one duck breast (12 ounces) from Hudson Valley Duck, the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast then sprinkled with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground pepper, and a little turbinado sugar (in our kitchen, the bowl of sugar has been infused over time with a vanilla bean), the duck left standing for about 45 minutes before it was pan-fried, first the fatty side down, in a tiny bit of olive oil, over medium heat, draining the oil part of the way through, to be strained and used in cooking later, the breast removed when medium rare (cut into 2 portions to check that the center is of the right doneness), left to sit for several minutes before finishing it with a drizzle of lemon and drops of a very good Campania olive oil, and scattered with ‘Bull’s Blood’ micro beets from Windfall Farm [NOTE: the tenderloin would normally have been removed from the breast before cooking, also marinated, and fried very briefly near the end of the time the breast itself was cooking, but this time I could locate no separate section to remove]
- small Brussels sprouts from Norwich Meadows Farm, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread onto a medium, well-seasoned Pampered Chef oven pan in a 400º oven and cooked until tender and slightly carbonized (the time will depend on size, but these took barely 15 minutes), finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and stirred
- one orange heirloom tomato from Cherry Lane Farm, cut into 1/2-inch slices, dried, pan-grilled, removed, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with bronze micro fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine was a California (El Dorado) red, Scott McLeod Matt Parish Pilot Hill Gang Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot El Dorado County 2014
- the music was Per Nørgård, Symphony No. 8, Sakari Oramo conducting the Vienna Philharmonic