Double Duck Breasts with Baked Figs
David Tanis | Yield: 12
Instead of roasting a whole duck at home, chef David Tanis ties together Muscovy duck breasts that have been seasoned with crushed peppercorns, allspice and juniper berries. Sweet baked figs are the perfect accompaniment.
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
- 1/2 teaspoon juniper berries
- A few cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, slivered
- 6 Muscovy duck breasts
- Aged balsamic vinegar
FOR THE FIGS
- 24 ripe figs
- Fresh thyme branches
- Olive oil
- Put the salt in a small bowl. Finely grind the peppercorns, allspice, juniper, cloves, and bay leaves in a mortar or spice mill. Mix the ground spices with the salt. Add the garlic.
- Trim the duck breasts and lay them on a baking sheet or platter. Season each breast on both sides with the spice mixture, massaging the seasoning into the flesh with your fingers.
- Now pair up the breasts, and make each pair into a sort of sandwich - that is, stack one breast on top of the other, skin sides out. With butcher’s twine, tie the “sandwiches” together, to make 3 compact little roasts. Wrap and refrigerate for at least several hours, or overnight.
- Place the breasts in a shallow roasting pan and let them come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Prepare the figs: With a sharp paring knife, cut the figs in half top to bottom, right through the stem, so their natural shape is preserved. Scatter a few thyme branches in the bottom of a shallow earthenware dish (or two) just large enough to hold the figs. Place the figs cut side up in the dish. Spoon a few drops of olive oil over them.
- Pop the roasts into the oven and cook for 15 minutes. The duck will have rendered a fair amount of fat. Carefully pour off the fat (to save the fat for cooking, cool, strain, and refrigerate). Turn the roasts over and return to the oven for 15 minutes more, or until nicely browned. An instant-read thermometer should register 125°F for a succulent, rosy medium-rare. Right after turning the roasts, pop the prepared figs into the oven for about 20 minutes, until they puff a little and look juicy.
- Remove the duck from the oven and pour off any accumulated fat. Let the roasts rest for 10 or 15 minutes. Remove the figs from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Remove the twine and cut the duck breasts crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on a warmed platter, and garnish with the baked figs. Drizzle a little aged balsamic vinegar over the duck and the figs.