This recipe is cooked with domesticated duck, now readily available in markets, both breasts and leg thigh cuts packaged separately. However, my first experience with duck, the wild variety, is much leaner and has a gaminess flavor not found in the farm raised store bought kind, which I now regularly cook. My experience with the wild duck was as a youngster when my father would come back from his hunting trips, usually Maryland, when not hunting in duck blinds on day shoots out in Long Island Sound. He was a good shot, especially with his trusty Parker side by side with 36″ barrels, modified and full chokes (offered for those hunting enthusiasts- a great duck and goose gun)… Ah… goose!
A topic for another post! My father, loving all aspects of the sport, from working with a good hunting dog, walking up fields or sitting in blinds with a cold driven northerly sheet of wind and sleet in one’s face, usually off Mecox Bay, telling me “This is really living Mikey Day” while opening an old Stanley Thermos that was filled with hot consomme and a wee bit of shooting sherry to warm the cockles, for me to try later on at an older age……I miss those times so very much. Out would come the duck call, not his best skill set I must say, trying to coax the fly by’s to turn and bank into our raft of decoys, usually driving them only to higher altitudes, with some outings holding good success and other times, not so successful, but always leaving with wonderful memories of our time spent together and laughs shared….On those shoots where we had some luck, we knew a great evening was to follow, with warm fires, cocktails, wild duck breasts wrapped in bacon, wild rice, mustard glazed carrots and Cumberland sauce…only to be further complimented with several bottles of Mateus wine, a rose http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mateus_%28wine%29 that in those days was very popular, came in a clay bottle and was not a high end wine, but rather a good value at reasonable price…Oh man, was this living large!!
This selection is a favorite I want to share as I endeavor to continue to try and offer a variety of recipes and dishes off the mainstream, hopefully motivating all of us to venture out of our comfort zone and experiment, experiment, experiment!…..So here it goes… a true favorite of mine that I encourage you to try….
The ‘before’ wild duck, a much less fatty bird than a domesticated farm raised bird, requiring the aid of bacon wrapped around the breast while cooking to self baste the meat…..
The ‘before ‘domestic duck…much, much fattier requiring a rendering of fat off the bird by placing in a fry pan, skin scored, flesh side up, searing 3-4 minutes before placing on grill, cooking indirectly, my proffered method when not roasting, as explained in further detail in the recipe.
The breast, as shown, breast side down and up, show the plumpness of the meat and illustrates the skin after being scored in a cross work pattern. The reason for this is that you want to allow the fat to render off the flesh and reduce before putting on the grill, being careful to cook indirectly to avoid flare ups!! I have always been a fan of heavy cast iron pans for distribution of heat and, as shown here, am searing the breast skin down to reduce fat content and crisp the skin…be sure your exhaust fan is on, as it can get a bit smokey….
You want to be careful here not to over cook the breasts, so watch the sides. If you start to see some greying, then its time to pull them allowing for the full cook on the grill with its smoke enriched goodness…This is what you are looking for….
The breasts have been removed from the skillet and put back to rest and cool in the marinade….flipping several times back and forth. Be sure not to discard the duck fat in the pan as it is “black gold” to any cook for its added special flavor, which we like with Brussels sprouts, blanched, then added with salt, pepper, and bacon bits (or pancetta) in the pan until lightly browned, a great compliment to any dish…..or our braised sprouts…sooooo good!! Recipe to follow in future post…..
Marinade…was reviewed in an earlier post for whole roast duck, which is another great dish that you should visit in the archives..
- 1 tbs Soy Sauce
- 1 tbs Hoisin Sauce
- ¾ cup fresh squeezed orange juice, 2-4 oranges
- ¼ tsp Garlic salt
Cumberland Sauce (more like a glaze):
- ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice with the pulp
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 2 tbs dry sherry
- 1/3 cup currant jelly (use more/less of the current jelly to thicken the ‘glaze’)
- Salt (not much, as the soy adds salt to the dish)
- Fresh ground pepper (to personal taste)
Heat orange juice, soy and sherry in a sauce pan over medium heat until bubbling. Let reduce by ¼ to intensify flavor. Add currant jelly to thicken into a syrupy glaze. Season to taste.
All the ingredients used compliment duck from Peking with Hoisin to oh-la-orange with zest of the orange, current jelly to add the natural sweetness of fruit, with sherry to fortify, but not overwhelm the sauce or marinade…really a symphony of feel good flavors that come together with a smoke seared and grilled duck breast cooked to a rare to medium rare texture, being sure to let rest 10 minutes and finish by cutting on the bias in thin slices. Here you will see both the medium and the medium rare to rare between the two breasts and different cooking times applied, which is my “go to” recommendation for all that cook on the grill, especially for those with varied tastes, easier to please when you offer some variety when cooking several pieces and slicing together….
The ticket with any main dish is to make sure it’s complimented with side dishes that work….for me, when it comes to duck, it’s mustard glazed carrots, wild rice, braised Brussels sprouts, garlic roasted green beans…… Looking forward to this meal on a lovely evening with a crackling fire good friends and family…takes me to a happy place…like Dr. Feel Good Pots did when I last visited Memphis, in search of new venues…