Could this actually be ‘seafood’? We eat a lot of fish, but last night’s entrée didn’t fall into that slot, unless we’re thinking of a position adopted, ounce, twice, or more, by the very clever prelates of the Roman church (cf. duck breast, grilled heirloom tomato, wilted lacinato, garlic).
A few notes about the cooking itself:
- I think we both agreed that it was one of the simplest and most delicious presentations of a duck dinner, ever, and we love duck, a lot. And juicy; everything was juicy.
- This time around the flame under the pan in which the breast was cooked was set higher than I had intended, but it doesn’t seem to matter how carbonized the layer of fat is, it never tastes burnt or bitter.
- The rest of the dinner was very much about peppers: Both of the kinds used in the side dish were really, really good.
- I didn’t need a garnish in either the duck or the peppers but I had this beautiful little container of red micro ‘greens’ that weren’t going to last forever, and I thought a few of them would perk up the plate visually; I’d say they did.
- one 16-ounce duck breast from Hudson River Duck Farm, the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast then rubbed, top and bottom, with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, then left standing, first inside the refrigerator and later on the counter for about 45 minutes altogether, pan-fried, fatty side down first, in a scant amount of olive oil inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan over medium heat (ideally) for a total of about 9 minutes, turning once, draining the oil after the first few minutes (the fat to be strained and used in cooking at another time, if desired), removed when medium rare, cutting crosswise into 2 portions and checking that the center was of the right doneness, which means definitely no more than medium rare, and maybe even a bit less, left to sit for several minutes before it was finished with a drizzle of juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, sprinkled with a bit of chopped young and very fresh and fragrant rosemary from Lani’s Farm and a little Portuguese house olive oil from Whole Foods Market, finished on the plates garnished with micro mustard greens from Windfall Farms
The meal was about peppers as much as it was about that delicious winged amphibian.
- enough olive oil to cover its bottom poured into a large sturdy seasoned steel skillet above a high flame, adding, just before the oil was ready to smoke, skin side down and not crowding, one basket (11 ounces) of some very sweet ‘Yummy’ peppers (that’s actually their varietal name) from Central Valley Farm, cut into halves, the few seeds and membranes removed, the peppers sprinkled with salt, a heavy weight (here a slightly-smaller foil-covered cast iron skillet) placed on top of them for 30 seconds or so, removed, the peppers moved around with tongs to blister them evenly, and once well blistered, flipped or arranged skin side up, the weighted pan added again for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the peppers were just about cooked, but not too limp, and then 2 small red Aji Dulce peppers (they’re beautifully spicy, but not at all hot) from Eckerton Hill Farm, were added and moved around until softened, followed by stirring in the equivalent of 4 average size whole basil leaves from a Massachusetts Full Bloom Market Garden live plant (a Whole Foods Market purchase), and less than a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, the peppers arranged on the plate across from the duck, and a small treasure of micro red amaranth from Two Guys from Woodbridge arranged just above it
- slices of that terrific, I’d say now iconic, miche of She Wolf Bakery, for the appreciation of both the plate juices and one of the best breads I’ve ever had
- the wine was a California (Alexander Valley) red, DRG Daryl Groom Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was the album, ‘Ingram Marshall: September Canons’