Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recipe 6 (Goal # 33) - Seared Duck Breast with Mushroom/Zucchini Gnocchi

I never had duck until very recently. I am Venezuelan and this bird is not really part of our cuisine. I also like ducks alive, they are cute and adorable and my mom used to collect duck figurines. As a non-red-meat eater I also didn't venture outside of the typical birds. I think all these elements combined drew me back from ordering duck at Chinese restaurants, and no matter how delicious it seemed Duck Confit never made it to my plate. 

Then I met G, he is half-Hungarian, and they eat duck like it is chicken. His family actually has this holiday called "Duck Day" in which his uncle (who is a fabulous cook) roasts 12 to 15 ducks. His mom cooks breast on a regular basis and the smell of duck fat alone reminds me of his family home. I have been living with G for 5 years and never cooked duck until this week. It was a conscious effort on my part, not because it's my favorite, but because I want duck to be part of our home as it was for him growing up. I want my future kids to be comfortable on Duck Day and to love and look forward to their grandma's duck dishes. 

Although this was my first time, duck was good to me. The breast cooked crispy, juicy and delicious. Combined with the berry compote the flavors blended wonderfully. I accompanied the breasts with a mushroom-zucchini gnocchi and laid it on a bed of greens. 

This dish looks fancy and complicated but really it is not, it took me less than an hour to prepare and the ingredients are probably in your weekly grocery list... well except the duck. You can also use sour cherry jam if you don't have time to make the compote.

Ingredients: (dinner for 4)

4 duck breasts
Mixed greens(for a bed to lay the duckies on)

500g Gnocchi. Preferably homemade or  if you don't have time De Cecco brand is great
1 or 2 Zucchini depending on size - finely chopped
1 1/2 cups of cremini mushrooms - finely chopped 
1/2 onion - finely diced
1 clove of garlic crushed using a press or a mortar (powder equivalent works too)
1 tbsp of olive oil or butter
A squirt (2 tbsp) of white wine or wheat beer
Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Berry Compote:
2 cups of raspberries
1 cup of blackberries
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Rinse the duck breast halves and pat dry. With a sharp knife make criss cross incisions on the fat-side of the breast without cutting too deep. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Immediately place the duck breasts in the pan, skin and fat side down. Do not move the duck breasts until the skin is deep brown, about 5 minutes. Discard the fat. Turn the breasts and cook until the internal temperature of the thickest part is 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) for well done. I would advice covering it to make sure it cooks evenly and juicy.

For the gnocchi - assuming it is ready or store bought 
Chop the zucchini, mushrooms, onions and prepare the garlic. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Sautee the onion and garlic with a bit of olive oil or butter until the onions become translucent. Add the mushrooms and zucchini.  When the mushrooms have shrunk quite a bit and the zucchini is looking soft add the wine or beer. Let it simmer on low until combining with the gnocchi. 
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the gnocchi; when they rise to the top (after about 2 minutes), continue to cook until tender, about 15 seconds more. Transfer gnocchi with a slotted spoon to the pan with the mushroom-zucchini.
Mixed well adding olive oil if needed and a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. 




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