After chatting to a few friends over the weekend i was made aware that there are many folk out there, more than i might have realized, that require a little more help & guidance when it comes to cooking. I guess when one is so immersed in the business of it all day every day, professionally that is, it's easy to lose sight of this & so one takes it for granted that everyone shares in the vast amount of culinary knowledge out there.
As a self taught cook my culinary & gastronomic information has been gained from this readily available, and ever increasing volume of information. Having the interest is all i needed. The process might have taken longer ( years & years ) but when does one ever stop learning truly? There is such a plethora of books from where one can learn, let alone with the interwebs, that i do need reminding that not everyone shares in my enthusiasm or necessarily has the time to indulge in hours of recipe reading, cooking and cleaning up after. Oh and eating of course !
So admitting my experience does qualify me to offer some guidance to those who need it , i am thus aiming to hopefully offer more than just inspiration for your next meal. Although if it's inspiration you need only - well I'll be more than satisfied in just achieving that !
Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Glaze
The beauty of duck breasts is not only are they super delicious to eat, but they are super quick & easy to prepare. Duck is naturally a fatty meat, but let your arteries fear not, the healthy trick is to get this fat rendered out (fancy word for "melted away" ) which will leave you with beautiful, crispy skin. The art to this with the breast is to first fry it skin side down in a hot pan , making sure the skin is patted dry before frying, and allowing the fat to melt and skin to crisp. Of course - your pan can't be too hot or else the skin will burn before all the fat has rendered. After around 90% (6-7 minutes) of the fat has been rendered you pop the breasts in the oven to finish cooking. The remaining fat will baste the meat whilst cooking and allows the meat to be cooked to preferred temperature. Medium Rare (another 6-7 minutes ) is the most popular choice - i.e. keeping it still pink in the middle, but cooking it your preference is naturally your choice, just cook it for longer.
Duck is a rich meat so i often portion 1 duck breast for 2 people - but that all depends on how much you love your duck. I didn't style this recipe with other sides but a sticky jasmine rice and a saute of green veg would work wonderfully.
2 duck breasts
3 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2-3 drops sesame oil
Set oven to 180degC.
Mix the pomegranate syrup , soy and sesame oil together and place in a shallow dish. Pat the skin dry with a paper towel & using a sharp knife score the fatty skin of the duck breast ( cut lines at regular intervals, moving across the length of the breast, you want to cut into the fat & ideally not into the meat.) Place the duck breasts into the dish with the pomegranate syrup mix. Don't allow the skin to come into contact with the syrup - as it will burn quickly when frying because of the sugar content. Sprinkle a little salt over the duck skins, cover with cling film and allow to marinade for 20 minutes to an hour.
Get a non stick pan over a medium - high heat and fry the duck breasts, skin side down, for 6-8 minutes until the fat has rendered and the skin is dark and crispy. The bits that did make contact with the syrup will blacken, but don't fret -it's okay. When done, turn the breasts over so they are now skin side up and pour over the marinade to glaze the skin. Take the pan immediately off the heat. The hot pan will start to reduce the marinade to a sticky consistency. Transfer the breasts to an oven proof dish and place in the oven for a further 6 minutes for medium rare , or until you prefer. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Pour over any of the sticky syrup reduction left in the pan. Serve immediately.