Well, you've driven miles and miles to spend a long weekend freezing your ass off, growing more and more irritated with your buddies as you sit humbly waiting for at least a few ducks to fly by so that you might have the opportunity to prove that you are in fact a good shot. Well, let’s say you got lucky.
Getting the Duck
If you truly are the world-class shooter you claim to be, you either winged your duck or blew its head off, because nobody likes a shot in their pan seared duck breast with balsamic-glazed figs.
Now at home in your warm kitchen, with ESPN on to catch up on all the games you missed, you might stare at your new defeathered friend and say to yourself, am I really going to eat this fat-laden, greasy thing? Indeed you are, minus the greasiness that so often turns us off to duck.
Start by placing Daffy on a large cutting board, head toward you and breast up. To remove the breast, simply take a sharp knife and slice vertically down each side of the breastbone. Continue to slice the large, fleshy breast off of the ribcage and remove one whole beautiful piece from each side. Holding the removed piece of meat, you will notice that there is a large slab of fat covering the top of it. Handled properly, this is a good thing!
Now, with breasts on the cutting board, fat side up, take that same sharp knife and score a crisscross pattern in the fat, just down to the meat—about four slices in each direction.
This is one of the few times I'll tell you to put something into a cold pan. Place the breasts fat side down in the pan and turn the heat to low. As the fat starts to render, turn the heat up gradually. Once most of the fat has rendered out, you should notice that the breast has a nice, crispy, golden-brown skin. Turn the duck over in the pan and put it into a pre-heated 400-degree oven. Cook for about six minutes for a nice medium rare. Serve with balsamic-glazed figs.
Balsamic-Glazed Figs (serves 4)
12 fresh figs, halved top to bottom
½ red onion, medium diced
½-cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. vegetable oil
Sauté onions in oil, just until soft. Add balsamic vinaigrette; turn heat to high and reduce 3/4. Add figs, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Toss to coat and serve warm with duck.
Don MacArthur is the executive chef at the Emerson Grill.