The best duck breast dinners were served at Levana Restaurant, alas closed now.
Show of hands, dear loyal Levana Customers: Am I right about this? Our chef made unforgettable duck breast. When I wrote my first Cookbook, Levana’s Table: Kosher Cooking for Everyone (highly recommended!) about 16 years ago, I included a chapter of some of Levana Restaurant signature dishes, including a home-cook-friendly adaptation of their famous Seared Duck Breast in Maple Citrus Sauce.
I understand that duck breast is an expensive treat, but please consider this: two 1-pound duck breasts will amply feed four, a luxurious dinner. A very good deal for an occasional treat (don’t we buy expensive ribeye steaks, sea bass and all that jazz for special occasions?) The good news is, the preparation of this duck breast dish is simple and streamlined. I used Grow and Behold Organic Duck Breast for this dish, and it came out to-die-for.
You might enjoy my post on tips for cooking duck:
You’ll find this post quite useful, and get the most bang for your duck- and your buck. In fact you might end up finding duck quite a good deal, when you see how every part of it can be a major team player in so many dishes. It will make you look like a pro!
Do not skip the Lapsang Souchong tea, as it adds a fabulous smoked layer of flavor. It’s with other good teas in the tea section, and here is a link for it just in case (delicious with a drop of milk too!)
- 2 1-pound duck breasts (2 pounds total)
- 4 shallots, minced
- 1 navel orange, unpeeled, cut into small cubes
- 1 thick-skinned lemon, unpeeled, cut into small cubes
- 1 granny smith apple, unpeeled, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup strong Lapsang Souchong tea
- 1 cup dry red wine (liquor stores)
- a dozen juniper berries (spice section) lightly crushed with a rolling pin
- 4-5 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs sage
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a heavy skillet until very hot. Slightly flatten the duck breast to make it an even thickness. Score the skin in diamond shapes with a sharp knife (repeat: Score, meaning, cut only through the skin, not through the flesh). Add the duck breasts to the skillet, skin side down, keeping the skillet temperature medium high. Watch all fat that will be released. When all of it has been rendered, pour all but 2 tablespoons of it in a glass jar (That duck fat is like striking gold in your kitchen: store the duck fat refrigerated. The included link above lists all the wonderful things you can do with it). Turn the duck breasts over, and cook another 3-4 minutes. You duck breast is now medium rare. Transfer the duck breast onto a platter to rest while you make the sauce.
Keep the skillet going. Add the shallot, and saute 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add all remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook about 15 minutes, or a drop longer, until the sauce thickens.
Slice the duck breast medium-thin, arrange in a platter. Strain the sauce over the duck breast, pressing hard on the solids (discard the solids at this point) so as not to loose any of the precious liquid. Serve the duck breast hot, with wild rice or polenta, saute baby bok choy or mushrooms, anything interesting, just keep it plain, as the sauce is chock-full of flavor, and will flavor the whole duck breast dish.