Duck Breasts with Cherries
Ann Willan | Yield: 2 or 3
Anne Willan knows that duck loves fruit, especially cherries. Here she plays up the sweet-tart cherry flavor with fruity red wine, raspberry jelly and a splash of red wine vinegar in a pan sauce for duck breasts.
- 8 ounces cherries, pitted
- 1 cup fruity red wine
- 2 tablespoons red currant or raspberry jelly
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
- 2 Magret Duck Breasts, about 12 oz
- Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
- Arugula leaves, for serving
- To begin the sauce, put the cherries in a small saucepan with the wine and jelly. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Set the pan aside.
- Trim the excess fat from the magrets, then crosshatch the skin, cutting down almost to the meat so fat can escape. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper.
- Heat a heavy, dry frying pan over medium heat. Add the magrets, skin side down, and fry until the skin is very brown and crisp to extract as much fat as possible, 5 to 7 minutes or longer if necessary. Turn and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Test a magret by poking the center with the point of a knife to see the color of the meat. If it is too rare for your taste, continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes, but remember it will be very tough if overcooked. When done, set the magrets aside, skin side up, on a carving board. Cover them loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- To finish the sauce, discard the excess fat from the frying pan. Add the vinegar and boil, stirring to dissolve the pan juices, until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Whisk in the garlic and tomato paste. Pour in the wine from the cherries, keeping back the cherries with a pan lid. Boil until the wine is slightly syrupy and reduced by more than half, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cherries and heat them gently. Take the pan from the heat and stir in the butter a piece at a time. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and set the sauce aside.
- Carve the magrets on the diagonal into thin slices. (You can discard the crisp skin if you must, but what a pity!) Pile a mound of arugula leaves at the side of 2 or 3 plates. Arrange the duck slices, overlapping them, on the plates. Using a draining spoon, pile the cherries on the plates. Spoon the sauce over the duck and serve at once.