Thursday, August 25, 2011

Duck Breast with Red Wine Reduction and Beet Mash

This elegant dish is deceptively simple. It looks beautiful and delivers on flavor, but at it's heart it is a meat and potatoes dish. The first duck dish that I posted showed you how to cook "sous vide." While I do think that technique is worth learning, for this post I am keeping things simple and will use the more conventional technique of pan searing the duck breasts and then finishing them in the oven.  The accompaniment is mash potatoes that have been enhanced with some beet puree that adds both color and depth of flavor. The sauce is a simple wine reduction that has just 3 ingredients and takes minutes to make. 
Serves 4 Prep time 20 minutes, cooking time 1 hour
    2   duck breasts
500g  potatoes, peel & cubed
200g  beets, peeled & cubed
  50g  beets, peeled & jullienned 
   50g  butter
 50ml  milk
 50ml 35% cream  
     1/4 bunch red grapes
400ml  red wine (cabernet or merlot)
  50ml  red wine vinegar
100g   sugar
1 bag  mache lettuce (or arugula)
200g  carrots, julienned
          olive oil, salt and pepper

 Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.
 1. In two separate pots, boil the potatoes and beets in salted water until a knife runs easily though them. The potatoes should be done in about 30-40 minutes. The beets will take twice as long. Strain, then mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and cream. Strain the beets, then purée in a blender with a small amount of the cooking liquid. Stir the beet purée into the mashed potatoes. Season with salt & pepper.
2. Meanwhile, score the fat of the duck breasts, season with salt and pepper and place in a cold frying pan, fat side down. Put the pan on medium high heat and sear the breast until golden brown on each side. Finish the breast in the oven for 8 minutes.
2. While the duck is cooking, combine the wine, vinegar and sugar in a small sauce pot and gently simmer until reduced to a syrup. When the reduction coats the back of a spoon it is ready. The reduction is perfect when you can run your finger across the back of the spoon and trace a line through the reduction.
3. Remove the duck breast from the pan and let rest. Reserve the fat that has run off. Cut the grapes in half and then fry them in the reserved duck fat.  
4. Toss the mache or arugula, julienned beets & carrots with olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. Season with salt & pepper.
To serve:
1. Divide the beet mash among 4 plates.
2. Slice the duck breasts and place 1/2 breast on each plate, over the mash
3. Garnish the plates with salad and sauteed grapes, drizzle with red wine reduction.