[How to cook…] The Perfect Duck Breast.

I’m a million miles away from being a Chef. I like to think of myself as an able cook. I understand why preparation is key to success in the kitchen, how seasoning is one of the greatest weapons in a cooks’ arsenal, and why you should taste, taste and then taste again throughout the cooking process.

Over the years, as my interest and understanding of food has grown, I’ve begun to spend more and more time in the kitchen helping out which ever parent was on dinner duty. Me helping out, inevitably developed into me taking over, gradually adding my own influence onto my parents cooking as my confidence grew.

With my love for all things food growing by the day, I’ve decided to embark on a mission to improve my ability in the kitchen. In this blog series, I will document dishes and ingredients I cook as part of my quest. For those blog entries where just a single ingredient is concerned, I will suggest a dish that it could be used in and then a wine pairing for the dish.

Duck has got to be one of my favourite meats in the entire world, but was something I had never quite got right. However, after many an hour practising on my family and girlfriend for dinners at every opportunity I got, and even more time than that spent watching YouTube videos on ‘how to’, I’ve finally cracked it.

Beautifully simple to cook, I’ve condensed the method into 9 easy to follow steps for anyone wanting to give it a go.

  1. Pre-heat the Oven to about 160° (180° if not fan assisted).

     2. Remove duck breast from packet and pat dry (I use kitchen towel).

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  1. Score duck using the tip of a sharp knife.

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4. Season with salt and pepper on both sides and leave for a few minutes (the salt will extract unwanted moisture from the fat).

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5. Lay the duck breast in a frying pan skin side down, with the pan cold, (starting with a cold pan and turning the heat up gradually, will render down the fat, rather than sealing it in which would happen if we started with a hot pan).

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6. Once the duck has released its fat, and the skin is a golden brown colour, turn the duck over and transfer to oven for 4-6 minutes (if you want to serve it pink).

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7. Bring the duck out of oven and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes.

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8. Carve at an angle, producing thick slices so the duck doesn’t lose its heat.

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9. Serve accompanied with some creamy mash and seasonal Veg.

And to drink?

If you’re having a glass of Wine with your Duck breast, then I’d suggest an older Pinot Noir from Burgundy. The light body and fruity character combined with its good levels of acidity and the hint of maturity, lend itself well to the gamey, fatty, flavourful character of the Duck. If however, you don’t happen to have an old Pinot just lying around, you can get the same earthy character from Pinot’s grown in cooler climates such as that in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.

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