March 19, 2010

Just Ducky - Duck Breast Confit with Pomegranate-Studded Greens

 con∙fit (\kōn-ˈfē), n.
French, from Old French, preparation, preserves, from past participle of confire, to prepare

1.  meat (as goose or duck), cooked and preserved in its own fat
2. a garnish made usually from fruit or vegetables, are cooked until tender in a seasoned liquid

It should be no surprise that I love duck.  My blog is named for Julia Child's favourite birthday dinner (and one that sounds just about perfect to me); the first meal we cooked in our über TurboChef was a roast duck; and a perennial feature at our annual Open House are mini duck confit potpies adapted from Food and Wine magazine.

So making duck confit itself seemed a natural next step.  I decided to use duck breasts, and give them a slightly Indian flare, inspired by a recent dish at Dish.  Slicing the duck breasts, still glistening with traces of that glorious fat, and strewing them over pomegranate-studded greens, made a supremely scrumptious dinner.

Duck Confit Breasts
adapted from Dish Cooking Studio

2 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Bengali garam masala*
2 bay leaves, crushed
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 duck breasts, approx 1 lb. each
2 lb rendered duck fat (you can make your own or purchase it from your local butcher)
5-6 whole cloves garlic, peeled

*Bengali garam masala:
To make Bengali garam masala, grind together one 3" cinnamon stick, broken in three pieces, 15 cardamom pods and 8 whole cloves as finely as possible. Store in a spice jar and use sparingly in stews and braises for a subtle spicy kick.

1.   Combine first four ingredients together in a small bowl, and sprinkle evenly over each breast.

2.  For each lb. of meat, measure ⅓ of an oz. of kosher salt, and sprinkle it evenly over all sides of the breast. 

3.  Set the breasts in a glass baking dish and sprinkle with the minced garlic.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and cure them in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours.

4.  When you are ready to roast the breasts, preheat the oven to 250°F.  Drain any liquid that has accumulated in the dish, and wipe dry. Scrape the spices off the meat and set the breasts back in the baking dish.

5. Heat the rendered duck fat gently until it is clear and amber.  Pour the fat slowly over the duck breasts until they are completely covered. 

6.  Place garlic cloves in oil.  Roast duck, uncovered, for about one hour, or until the meat is medium rare.  Let cool in the fat.

7.  Place duck in a glass jar or container that has an air tight lid.  Strain the fat through a cheesecloth, and pour over the duck.  Let cool, then cover and refrigerate.  The duck will keep for up to six months - if you can wait that long to eat it!

Duck Breast Confit with Pomegranate-Studded Greens
serves six

¼ c. minced shallots
1 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ c. olive oil
The seeds of one pomegranate
Salt and pepper to taste
4 c. mixed greens of your preference; wild greens, such as dandelion, are a nice counterpoint to the duck

1. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients and whisk together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

2. Arrange greens on individual plates, or one large platter if serving family style.  
3.  Remove fat from duck breasts and slice on the diagonal, arranging attractively on the greens.  Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.  Spoon dressing to taste on top, and serve.