For a long time in France goose was preferred to the barnyard duck. It was only in the Renaissance that recipes for domestic duck began to appear more frequently in cooks' collections.
A well-fattened duck - in other words force-fed - lent itself admirably to cooking on a spit. But the current fondness of the French for breast of duck is recent, dating back only twenty years or so. Having said that, we should add that the popularity of fillet is nothing new, for it appears that refined Romans ate only the head and the breast of the duck.
Commercial production of duck fillets began in the Southwest, where geese and ducks are force-fed to produce foie gras. The flesh is red, close-textured and delicate and is eaten rare.
- 2 duck breast fillets, about 11 ounces each
- 1 pound morello cherries (sour)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon aged wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon blackcurrant liqueur
- 3 tablespoons dry red wine
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chicken stock powder
- 1 tablespoon butter
Let the fillets come to room temperature for 1 hour before use. Stone the cherries and reserve the juice that runs out.
Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper on the skin side. Heat a 6-quart cast-iron casserole over medium heat. Add the duck, skin-side down, and cook for 8 minutes. Discard the cooking fat.
Turn the fillets skin-side up and cook them for 5 minutes, pricking the crisp skin several times with a fork: more fat will run out. Lift them out of the casserole and keep them between 2 plates. Discard all the fat from the cooking. Pour the vinegar into the casserole and let it evaporate. Add the liqueur, wine, sugar and the cherries with their juice. Boil for 1 minute. Drain the cherries and transfer to a dish.
Reduce the cooking juices, adding the chicken broth, until you have 1/4 cup left. Add the juices given out by the duck fillets and the cherries. Reduce again until you have a syrupy sauce. Whisk in the butter. Set aside.
Thinly slice the duck fillets and arrange on 4 plates. Surround with the cherries. Coat with sauce and serve immediately.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
303 calories; 10g total fat; 128mg cholesterol; 758mg sodium; 16g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 33g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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