Taste of the Week – January 3rd – 9th – Wild Mallard Duck Breast

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I had never had wild mallard duck before, always farm-raised magret. I was recently given some freshly shot and field dressed mallard breasts by my friends Albert and Pat Sheldon. Normally when I cook duck it still has its skin and subcutaneous fat. Since these were field dressed they were skinned rather than plucked. With skin on magret, I score it and cook it skin down in a pan until the fat is rendered and then do a quick sear on the flesh side. This was different though since it had neither skin nor fat. Having sought and received advice on facebook and twitter, I moved ahead and cooked the breasts for an hour at 125ºF in the CVap then did a quick sear of both sides in a little duck fat from the fridge. I served the duck with duck-fat roasted fingerling potatoes (I never make enough of them) and sauteéd shaved brussels sprouts with garlic and raisins. I paired the dish with a 2001 old vines Gevrey-Chambertin from Domaine Bachelet.

The duck was absolutely marvelous. Prior to the CVap, I applied a dry rub of Chinese five spice and sea salt. The duck was not in the least bit gamey. It was tender, rich and delicious. My wife, who is not generally a big fan of duck even enjoyed it and called it "the best duck" she ever had. While I'm not sure that I would go that far, I can't say that I have had much better.


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