This Blood Orange Duck Breast with Wild Rice Salad is brought to by all the duck I didn’t order while in Paris. Don’t get me wrong, when I was in Paris I ate a considerable amount of duck. From smoked to confit, I could not get enough. After four days, I decided to cut myself off. I was worried I wasn’t experiencing the full spectrum of the Parisian food scene. After all, Paris has a lot more to offer than duck parts… Man, I should work for their tourism board; Paris: Not just duck parts. The duck obsession had to end. I had to leave room for steak tartare, scallops, and what I’m sure was a near lethal number of terrines. But even after making the promise to lay off the duck, I still considered ordering it. Every. Damn. Time.
After I left Paris, I was plagued with numerous food questions. You see, when you’re an obsessive foodie in Paris you’re constantly and simultaneously happy and depressed. You’re happy because Paris food = amazing! You’re depressed because you’re a mere Canadian mortal incapable of such culinary feats. To say visiting Paris is a humbling experience is an understatement. But instead of shame spiraling over every croissant, I made a mental note of all the techniques I wanted to know and vowed to figure them the out when I got home. Seared duck breast was second from the top. The first was the eclair… just give me time.
Cooking a duck breast to that perfect level of Parisian rare turned out to be relatively easy. Sure, you have to be borderline obsessive about draining the fat from the pan (it will steam instead of crisping up if you don’t), but other than that searing duck breast is blissfully straightforward. Yes, even a lowly Canuck can handle it!
As I mentioned in my rigatoni post, February is a wretched, painful month that needs to be stopped. I stand by that but I’ve recently found solace in shooting winter citrus. Blood oranges are my absolute favorite subject these days. The are just so gorgeous. I love the blushing skin, the varying tones of the flesh, and the way they stain my cutting board. I am completely obsessed. So naturally, a blood orange duck breast and salad was the only way to go. The wild rice, mushrooms and red kale came into play because I wanted dark earthy tones to enhance the jewel-like oranges.
In addition to supplying the salad with rich dark purples, the kale also brought a hint of bitterness that cut through the rich duck meat beautifully. Every time I’m dealing with a cut of flavorful meat, I reach for a bitter green. It is one of my favorite flavor combinations on the planet. I mean it, it’s right up there with peanut butter and chocolate. If you haven’t paired a steak or a cut of lamb with dandelion greens or rapini, you really should. I’m not saying you’ll like it, I most likely don’t know you, but if you do you’ll absolutely love it. There is no in-between. Also, if you find yourself choking down the likes of swiss chard because it’s healthy, this pairing may convince you bitter greens have other compelling attributes beyond their nutrient count.
Give this Blood Orange Duck Breast with Wild Rice Salad a go. It’s deceptively easy and sure to impress. Basically, it’s everything you want in a date night recipe. So, go forth and pitch woo like a Parisian through the power of duck.
- 1 - 2 duck breast
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 12 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 blood oranges, divided
- 230 g (8 oz.) cremini mushrooms, halved
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon demerara sugar
- Olive oil for frying and drizzling
- Using a sharp knife, score the fat side of the duck breasts. Season liberally with salt and place on a drying rack. Place drying rack on top of a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Let the duck sit for 1 hour.
- In a small saucepan, combine wild rice, chicken stock, 6 sprigs of thyme, garlic and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 45-50 minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
- While the rice is cooking, take 3 of the blood oranges and cut them into segments. Set aside. Cut the remaining blood orange in half. Juice one half and slice the other into rings. Set aside.
- Heat a quarter-sized amount of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until well-browned. Add the wine and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the wine is completely absorbed. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Place the duck fat side down on a cold oil-less skillet over medium heat. Fry the breast undisturbed for 20 minutes, draining the fat from the pan every few minutes. Make sure you have a glass jar handy. Once the duck has formed an amber, crisp crust, flip it and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the butter, orange juice and rings, sugar, and the remaining thyme. Wait for the butter to melt, then tilt the pan towards yourself and spoon the butter mixture over the duck breast. Do this for 2 minutes.
- Remove the duck from the heat and tent in foil. Let the duck rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Place wild rice, orange segments, mushrooms and kale in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- To serve, spoon some salad on to a couple of plates and top with duck slices. Garnish with additional fresh thyme if desired.