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Friday Feast: Ducks in the Orchard

Friday Feast: Ducks in the Orchard

It's fall! Hunting season has begun, the leaves are changing, pumpkins and apples are in abundance. And the best time of the year to experiment with flavors and meats.

This Friday we bring you a mix of sweet and savory with this duck and apple recipe from one of our favorite hunters and chefs.

Pair this dish with wild rice, roasted potatoes, a fresh green salad or just some good old harvest and grain bread.   

  • 1 1/2 pounds wild duck breast (domestic is fine, too)
  • 1 tablespoon duck fat or butter
  • 2 firm apples, such as Fuji
  • 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple sugar
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup apple cider, hard or sweet
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • Hawaiian red salt or coarse sea salt

Take the duck breasts out of the fridge and salt lightly. Let sit at room temperature for 25 minutes.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl of water. Slice the apples into quarter moons of about 1/4 inch thick. Do not peel. Drop each slice into the lemon juice and make sure all sides are coated to avoid browning.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the duck fat or butter and swirl to coat the pan. Place the duck breasts skin side down, turn the heat to medium and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until golden brown. Turn over and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how you like your duck. Remove the duck breasts and tent loosely with foil. Let them rest while you make the sauce.

Spoon off all but about 3 tablespoons of fat. Cook the apples over medium-high heat; do not crowd them. Brown the apples lightly on both sides. When you flip them, sprinkle the brown sugar over everything and swirl to combine while the apples  continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the cider in the pan and put the heat up as high as it will go. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and the cayenne into the pan and boil this furiously until it cooks down by two-thirds.

Slice the duck breast pieces roughly the same width as the apples. To make the dish, make a rosette of alternating duck breast and apple in the center of the plate. Spoon a small amount of the reduced cider on each piece of duck, then one more spoonful in the center of the rosette. Sprinkle with the fresh mint and the Hawaiian red salt. Serve at once.

Recipe courtesy of Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.  

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