Duck breasts are one of my favorite things to make for a quick and elegant dinner. Originally created for Episode 308, Season 3, of Sara’s Weeknight Meals, this “cook once, eat twice” recipe gives you a head start on the next night’s entree, Peking Duck Wraps.
Recommended side dishes: coucous and butter braised baby carrots
Makes 4 servings
6 Peking duck breast halves
1 shallot, minced (about ¼ cup)
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Score the skin on each duck breast half in a crisscross pattern and sprinkle it lightly on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat two large skillets over medium high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium and place 3 of the duck breasts, skin side down, in each skillet. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the skin looks very crispy. Do not pour off the fat; the liquid fat in the pan helps to render out the fat in the skin. When the duck skin is crisp remove the duck to a plate, pour off almost all of the fat from each pan, except for 2 teaspoons and reserve it for another use, such as sauteeing vegetables. Return the duck to the skillet, meat side down and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more for medium rare. Remove the duck to a clean plate, skin side up; cover it loosely with foil and let it rest while you make the sauce.
Add the shallots to one of the skillets and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the shallots are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Deglaze the second skillet with the chicken broth, scraping up the brown bits and take the pan off the heat. Add the wine to the shallots and simmer until reduced by half. Add the chicken broth and the coarsely crushed black pepper and simmer until reduced slightly. Whisk the cornstarch mixture to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved and whisk it into the chicken broth mixture. Simmer, whisking for 1 minute. Add the juices from the resting duck, the mustard and salt to taste. Add the butter and swirl the pan until the butter is just dissolved.
Slice 3 ½ of the breasts thin and divide them among 4 plates, top each portion with one fourth of the sauce. (reserve the remaining 2 ½ breasts for the Peking Duck Wraps).