It was kind of like playing a little game of ‘duck, duck, goose’ well all except there was no goose, only a missing duck, one Magret Duck Breast.
There were two duck breasts in my tall garage freezer at last count and having recently prepared brandied peach and cherries sauces I thought they might be a nice little complement to a bird whose late summer presentation needed little other adornment. But despite the tall freezer in the garage being in a rather organized state, it is packed, hence one of the duck breasts, an ingredient that does not have its own labeled plastic holding bin on the shelves, had somehow gone missing between various containers of stocks, bones, and my categorical meat, fish, chicken, and miscellaneous sections. The missing second duck breast last week then became the distinct contributing factor for not ordering a whole frozen rabbit when an email arrived to my inbox on an incredible sale run by Dartagnan, who is incidentally also the purveyor of the duck breast. Despite that a whole rabbit would be much more difficult to conceal, there was no option but to avoid a game of duck, duck, rabbit, or rather, duck- rabbit since I did have accessible one of lovely breasts. Curiosity then got the best of me, or rather determination to shelf by shelf remove all contents to find the missing duck, which fortunately appeared on the second shelf wedged between labeled freezer paper packages of chicken breasts and tenderloins. Hence, the festive occasion began, Magret Duck Breast, brandied peaches and cherries sauces.
The Magret is the breast of a Moulard Duck whose rich dark red colored cut is rather meaty. The Moulard duck is a breed cross between a Muscovy Duck and a Pekin Hen and is highly prized for its large size production for fois gras. It probably should also be noted for its rich production of fat which renders in the form of grease when cooking, an ingredient use now commonly featured on the landscape of many restaurant menus, those crispy, tasty, duck fat fries.
In many ways I suppose one might consider this duck as having been long term sustainable in many attributes, including the duck skin whose crispy outer coating is a treasure all unto itself, for who dares remove duck skin? The idea itself even sounds preposterous. The differential there between the cooked Magret vs. the Duck Leg is that the Magret is then thinly sliced as a steak which is kind of like having to share the skin, where with the duck leg (which also requires little adornment) you get a whole big piece of crispy skin all to yourself.
The Magret is particularly easy to cook, and in particular because its preparation is one of those few whose recipe for the most part is always cooked in the same fashion. You simply score the top fat part of the breast, sprinkle with salt and pepper if you like, and then fat side down place the breast into the pan, no oil is required, for the duck shall produce its own. Cooking the duck on the very lowest heat for 8 minutes will produce a golden crispy crust at which point you simply turn the breast over and cook it for another 2-3 minutes. The only personal thought process involved is how done you would like to cook it. In my case, I prefer the duck a bit more cooked to medium rare so I finish it off in the oven preheated at 350 degrees, absolutely no longer than two to three minutes, before removing the duck to a cutting board to rest for five minutes before its carving.
Having mentioned Magret Duck Breast as a steak brings me to a brilliant story on the Dartagnan website on the invention of the Magret Duck Breast Steak which was founded by a two-star Michelin Chef at the Hotel de France in Auch named Chef Andre Daguin. Guess who he was? The founder of Dartagnan. Not unlike the history on the accidental invention of French fries, in this case, one day a customer went to the Hotel de France for a late lunch but there were hardly any ingredients left to prepare such a fine meal, well, all except a tray of uncooked Magret’s readied to confit. Snatching one off of the tray Chef Daguin seared it up rare, the customer apparently loved it, shared it with a couple of other customers, who concurred, and voila! the rest of Magret Duck Breast prepared and sliced as a steak is international culinary history, transformed today for all to enjoy, provided you don’t misplace them in your freezer.
- 1 Magret Duck Breast (see Dartagnan.com )
- couple small pinches each side coarse kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon peach sauce, recipe below
- 2-3 teaspoons cherry sauce, recipe below
- fresh mint, optional for garnish
- 2 peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- pinch salt
- 1 cup cherries, pitted
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- Lightly score the duck fat all across, sprinkle on salt and pepper. Place duck breast fat side down in a saute pan and cook on the lowest heat for 8 minutes until crispy golden browned, turn breast over and cook another 2-3 minutes. For more cooked medium rare, preheat oven to 350 degrees- before- beginning to cook duck in pan, then place the cooked magret into the oven for only an additional two to three minutes at most.Remove duck from pan and place onto a cutting board to rest for five minutes. Slice steak, arrange on platter with sauces and serve.
- Stir all ingredients together in a small pan on the very lowest heat, stirring frequently and mashing down the peaches, continue stirring frequently to a rather smooth paste.
- Stir all ingredients together in a small pan on the very lowest heat and cook until thickened, stirring frequently.