To duck or not to duck….

There are things I traditionally keep putting off. Cleaning out my wardrobe; filling out my tax form; and (at the end of a list that goes onandonandon) cooking duck. As 2012 is all about challenges, I chose a duck recipe for my second blog post. I shied away from cooking a whole bird and decided to go with duck breasts as a start.

The recipe is from a German magazine called menu magazine (issue November/December 2011). It rates the recipe as easy, so I was confident that I would not do too badly.

The recipe said that I needed to buy duck breasts of a hen. With this, they had already lost me. How am I supposed to tell? The packaging only says that it contains duck breast from Hungary. The sex of the duck was not worth mentioning.  I wanted to find out more and turned to Google.  I did not find out a lot about the difference between the breasts of the different sexes but I stumbled upon several articles about the production of duck meat and animal cruelty. Apparently a lot of the meat produced in Hungary is from animal farms that produce foie gras (i.e. that force feed the ducks with metal tubes several times a day to fatten them up quickly). I was angry at myself for not researching this before buying the meat. It did not put me off cooking the duck breasts, though. BUT I will add another rule to my 5 existing rules (see 1st blog post): Rule 6. I will only use animal products from producers that commit to animal welfare, i.e. that produce organic and free range products. As for vegetables and fruit, I will stick to seasonal products as much as I can. I will not commit myself to only buying organic veggies and fruit as I am not wholly convinced that they are worth it (neither for the environment nor taste wise).

But now to today’s recipe:  For 2 people you need 2 duck breasts (or to be specific: duck breasts of a hen), salt and pepper, 2 pears, 1.5dl white wine (they don’t specify what kind of wine, I used a Chardonnay), 20g of sugar, one cinnamon stick and one table spoon of honey.  First, preheat the oven to 100° Celsius. Then wash the chicken breasts and crisscross the skin with a sharp knife, rub in the salt and pepper.

After searing the duck breast skin side down in a pan (without any additional fat) until the skin is browned, off they go into the oven for 50 minutes.

In the meantime boil the skinned and quartered pears in the boiling liquid made of white wine, sugar and cinnamon for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool. When the ducks are ready to come out of the oven, wrap them in tin foil and set them aside for 5 minutes while heating 50ml of the white wine, sugar, cinnamon mix with the honey. I added a little left over crème fraiche from yesterday’s scones. Cut both the pears and the duck breasts into slices, put on a plate and drizzle the sauce over it. The recipe does not tell you what side dishes go well with the duck. I chose oven roasted potatoes.

The recipe turned out well. The duck tasted really good and the meat was tender and rosy. Nevertheless, I don’t think this is a recipe to keep. I will stick to feeding the ducks in Lake Zurich in future.

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