For our last post of 2014, we offer a recipe to savor with its remaining hours and perhaps welcome into your kitchen in the new year. This duck breast with turnips and pears comes straight from The Cypress Room’s menu where chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia has certainly made the most of the season. Duck may not be the first bird-of-a-feather that comes to mind as home cook-friendly but chef Roel begs to differ. The dish is both elegant and easy to make at home and is most festive in its classic pairing of earthy turnips with sweet-tart pears. Chef adds that he not only loves duck because it is extremely delicious, but because you can use every bit of it. He purchases his “Rohan” breed for the restaurant from D’artagnan, but you should be able to find a quality bird at your neighborhood supermarket. Whether you cook it whole, braise the legs, roast the breast, or even render the fat, duck is amazingly versatile and delectable!
Pan roasted duck breast with turnips, pears, and natural jus
1 whole duck, about 5-6 pounds, cleaned and patted dry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 cups of chopped Spanish onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups red wine
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 pieces baby turnips, peeled and cut in half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and seeded
4 tablespoons white balsamic or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Pre heat oven to 350° F.
Separate breast and legs from duck and put breast in the refrigerator. In a roasting pan, place duck bones and legs, roast for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown throughout. Stir occasionally, flipping duck. Remove duck and legs from the pan, and set aside on a plate. Add carrots, onion, and celery in the same pan. Put in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until all vegetables are caramelized, taking care not to burn.
Remove pan from oven and deglaze with the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits. Take garlic, tomato paste, 6 cups of water, duck legs and bones, vegetables and red wine glaze and put into a stockpot over low-medium heat. Let simmer for about an hour and a half, or until it the duck legs fall off the bone. Strain liquid with a fine mesh strainer into a large pot, setting the duck legs and vegetables aside for another use*. Let liquid rest in a large pot for 20 minutes off the heat, then skim and discard the fat from the top. Now reduce the liquid over low-medium heat until it coats the back of a spoon.
Take turnips and place into a sauté pan with cup of water, 2 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper. Cook until fork tender and glazed. Add more water if necessary. Set aside.
Place pears, vinegar, maple syrup, and honey in a sauté pan. Bring to a low simmer until the pears are caramelized. Set aside.
Take duck breast and score the skin in a crosshatch fashion, being careful not to slice the flesh. Season with salt and pepper and place, skin side down, in a cold cast iron skillet. Cook over low- medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and most of the fat is rendered. Flip and let cook for about one more minute. Remove from heat and let sit, skin side up, on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.
Slice duck breast and divide onto four plates. Place the turnips and pear in equal amounts on the plate. Spoon the sauce on top of the duck, squeeze a little lemon, and serve immediately.