When thinking of an entree for our menus, we usually consider chicken, turkey, fish, beef, or veal. Lamb, if we feel daring! It's a shame that duck, for some reason (perhaps intimidation) doesn't pop into our heads as a possibility. Duck meat is delicious,
and becoming more widely available in kosher butchers and even online.
This dish is extremely easy to prepare, and the crunchy browned skin of the duck against the sweetness of the compote is a revelation. Even my peaky-eating children love it!
You can use chicken breasts, if you prefer, but why not innovate for the New Year?
- Granny Smith apples - 3, cored and diced
- apple juice - 1/2 cup
- honey - 1/4 cup
- apple cider vinegar - 3 tbsp
- salt - to taste
- pepper - to taste
- duck - 4 boneless breast halves (about 2 lbs)
- coarse sea salt -
- pepper - freshly ground
1. To make compote, place apple dice, juice, honey, vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring once in a while to avoid burning.
2. When apple pieces are soft, remove compote from heat. Cool down and store covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days or use when still warm and duck is ready. Taste for seasoning before using and adjust, if needed.
3. Heat a grill, grill pan or a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until very hot.
4. While pan is heating, pat duck breasts dry and score skin at 1-inch intervals with a sharp knife (do not cut into meat), then sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
5. Put breasts, skin sides down, in skillet and reduce heat to moderate. Cook for about 5 minutes, until skin is crispy and brown. Fat will be rendered and you can save it for another use.
6. Turn breasts, insert a meat thermometer into center of one of the breasts, and cook until it registers 130 F (see note) 6 to 10 minutes.
7. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Then, holding a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle, cut each duck breast into thin slices and serve with warm compote.
Note: The USDA recommends cooking duck breasts to an internal temperature of 170°F to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed, but duck meat is more tender and flavorful when cooked medium-rare (at 130 F).
-If you choose to use boneless chicken breasts instead of duck, there's no need to score the skin (you can even use skinless breasts), but do sprinkle them with salt and pepper; and add a bit of oil to the pan before cooking. Make sure chicken is completely cooked through.
-You can substitute apple juice in compote completely or partially with white wine.