Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Bordeaux, Thyme & Currant Sauce over French Lentils

serves 2 

2 duck breasts
3/4 cup French lentils, rinsed and sorted 
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon
1/4 cup currants, soaked in hot water and drained 
1 Pink Lady or Jonathan apple, peeled and julienned 
1/2 cup Bordeaux 
1 shallot, minced (2 tablespoons) 
pinch brown sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Centigrade) and line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Place the lentils, two sprigs of thyme, a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a medium sauce pan with three cups of water and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and simmer until the lentils are toothsome, about 20 minutes. 

In a small bowl, toss all but two tablespoons of the julienned apple with the juice of half of the lemon. Set aside.

Prepare the duck breasts by scoring the skin side of each breast in a diamond pattern at about one-quarter inch intervals. Season the meat side with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Heat a large skillet over high heat until hot. Place the duck skin side down and sear for about five minutes. You want a constant sizzle to render the delicious fat but not so hot that it is popping out of the pan. Flip and sear on the other side for about two minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet and finish in the oven for three to five minutes. Three minutes yields medium rare; five yields medium well. 

Add the shallot, two tablespoons of apple and the two remaining sprigs of thyme to the duck fat remaining in the skillet. Cook for about 45 seconds, then deglaze the pan with Bordeaux, toss in the currants and reduce for about one minute. Remove the thyme, then use an immersion blender to puree the sauce until smooth. (If you don't have one, you can certainly use a regular high-speed blender.) Season to taste with sea salt and a pinch of brown sugar.

Remove the duck from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing on a bias at about one quarter inch intervals.

Drain the lentils and season to taste with sea salt and the juice of the remaining half of lemon.
To serve, place the lentils on warmed plates and top with the duck. Pour the sauce over the duck and around the plate. Top with julienned apples. Serve immediately with the remaining Bordeaux. 

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