seared duck; mushroom marsala; roasted la ratte; cabbage

It seemed like a great excuse to modify what has long been my routine preparation of seared duck breast. I had some mushrooms left over from the night before, and combining them with the duck seemed like a fine idea.

The execution however wasn’t perfect for either duck or mushrooms, nor for one of the 2 vegetables that accompanied them. I’m blaming it on my haste in working at placing dinner on the table earlier than I have been lately, and strain of working on all 4 elements of the meal at just about the same time.

The flame under the duck was probably too hot, which left the skin and fat more charred than I would prefer (although, because of the fat and the sugar, without compromising the flavor), and it probably explains why it was necessary to keep the breast in the pan longer than normally in order to arrive at the same stage of doneness I as always.

I also went just a little too far in cooking the mushrooms and largely neglected the ‘crispy-ing’ and the seasoning of the cabbage. The potatoes were perfect however, but then the recipe is also.

  • one 14-ounce duck breast from Hudson River Duck Farm (the tenderloin removed, but seasoned like the rest of it, then fried very briefly near the end of the time the larger section was cooking, then halved), the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife and the entire breast rubbed, top and bottom, with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, left standing on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour before being pan-fried, fatty side down first, inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan over medium heat [see above discussion] for a total of about 9 minutes, turning once, draining the oil after the first few minutes (the fat strained can be used in cooking at another time, if desired), the breast removed when medium rare, cut crosswise into 2 portions and checked for the right doneness in the center, which means definitely no more than medium rare, and maybe even a bit less, drizzled with a little juice from an organic Whole Foods Market lemon and some olive oil, the halves transferred to very warm plates sitting on top of the oven a mushroom dish was prepared inside the pan where they had cooked
  • the heat below the pan set to medium-high, all but 1 tablespoon of drippings removed and a little olive oil added before tossing in 4 or 5 ounces of sliced blue oyster mushrooms from Blue Oyster Cultivation and two sliced shallots from Phillips Farms, the two sautéed, stirring, until the mushrooms were tender, or for about 6 minutes, then seasoned with salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of marsala (Pellegrino Superiore S.O.M. Dry) added, and stirred with the mushrooms until the juices had thickened, scraping up the browned bits, or about 1 minute, divided and arranged on the plates around the duck, mushrooms and duck sprinkled with parsley
  • part of a cored Savoy cabbage (7 ounces?) from Tamarack Hollow Farm, sliced into one-half-inch ribbons, sautéed in a scant tablespoon of olive oil inside a heavy medium-size tin-lined copper pot until wilted but still a little crunchy, stirring occasionally, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, 5 or 6 slightly smashed juniper berries mixed in, a few tiny drops of balsamic vinegar added and the mix stirred over the heat for only a moment, arranged on the plates and finished with a drizzle of olive oil