Duck Baharat with Cherry Sauce
Time requirement: 30 minutes. But it is always best to season the duck 2-8 hours in advance.
What you will need for the duck:
2 duck breasts, skin on, about 6-8 ounces each.
½ teaspoon Baharat. *
½ teaspoon kosher salt.
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
1 small potato, about the size of a large egg.
1 turnip, also about the size of a large egg.
*Baharat is a middle eastern spice mixture of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. Sometimes it also includes cumin, coriander, black pepper, and cardamom. You can make up your own mix, or order online. Google Baharat and many options will appear. In a pinch, use ¼ teaspoon McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice mixture and round it up to a ½ teaspoon by adding some ground nutmeg, cloves, and cumin.
With a sharp knife make a crisscross pattern on the duck breast skin.
Combine the Baharat, salt, and pepper. Rub this all over the nonskin side of the duck breast but reserve a little for the skin side too.
Set the duck aside while you prepare the vegetables and cherry sauce (cherry sauce recipe is below).
Wash the vegetables. Peel the carrot and turnip. Cut the carrot into two pieces.
In a saucepan of water, parboil the potato, carrot, and turnip until they are about halfway done. Turn off the heat and leave them to continue to cook in the hot water.
In the meantime, prepare the cherry sauce (it needs 15-20 minutes for simmer) and set it aside.
When you are ready to cook the duck…. Add some spray oil a 12-inch fry pan and heat over a low heat for a few minutes. Add the duck breast skin side down. Gently cook the breasts over a low heat until the skin is deeply browned and crisp. Depending on your heat and pan, this could be 8-12 minutes. As the duck cooks, the fat will run; when it does, cut the turnip and potato in quarters. Add them and the carrot to the pan. Allow the vegetables to brown in the duck fat; turn them occasionally so they brown evenly. When the duck skin is crisp and brown, turn the duck and cook two minutes on its nonskin side.
Remove the duck to a plate and cover with foil. If the vegetables are not yet brown, continue to cook the vegetables until they are brown and then remove them to the plate with the duck. Meanwhile heat two plates in the oven (or a warming draw). You do not want to serve this dish on a cold plate.
Pour off the fat from the pan. Pour into the pan the cherry sauce and reduce it to a syrup. While the sauce reduces, arrange the vegetables on the serving plates and slice the duck breast and arrange the slices on the plate. Spoon the thicken sauce over and around the duck breast and serve at once.
Note: I cook my duck breast to medium rare. If you like your duck more well done, cook it a little longer on the nonskin side. But know that overcooked duck breast is like leather.
What you will need:
2 tablespoon honey.
2 tablespoons highly concentrated veal stock; otherwise highly concentrated duck or chicken stock.
1 tablespoon Mirin. (Mirin is a sweet rice wine sold in the Asian section of your market. Or use a sweet port wine).
½ cup white wine vinegar.
½ cup red wine.
1 cup cherries, frozen or fresh. I think of duck as a winter dish. That’s when cherries are out of season. As a result, I make this sauce with frozen pitted cherries. You can use nonpitted cherries, just be sure to warn your guests.
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. That’s it. Taste it to make sure it is not too sour nor too acidic. If it is, then a touch of sugar may do the job.
When the time comes add it to the pan in which the duck breast cooked; deglaze the pan and reduce the sauce to a syrup.