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Quick and Easy : A Time-Saving Duck Recipe From Cookbook Author Abby Mandel

February 05, 1989|BETSY BALSLEY | Balsley is The Times' food editor.

PROLIFIC FOOD writer and food-processor expert Abby Mandel has written a new cookbook that fits well into today's rapid-paced life style. Called "More Taste Than Time" (Simon & Schuster, $19.95), the book is filled with a feast of fast, easy recipes--the sort that present-day cooks, who can never find enough preparation or cooking time, are constantly searching for.

Mandel's philosophy is simple: She says that cooking needn't be "serious or great--rather, it can simply be good food that's fresh, personal and home-cooked with an element of care and love."

Mandel has a fine palate; her recipes are carefully tuned to balance taste and textures. She incorporates plenty of shortcuts in the preparation, such as the use of microwave ovens and food processors, but never when to do so would affect either the freshness or the flavor of the finished dish. One of her most useful assists is the listing of cooking times for both conventional and microwave ovens.

The recipes in "More Taste Than Time" range from simple breakfast suggestions, such as breakfast tacos or shirred eggs in tarragon cream, to rather elaborate main dishes and desserts. Each recipe indicates the amount of time needed for preparation and cooking and the number of servings.

The following recipe for duck breasts in a tart ginger- and lime-flavored sauce calls for duck breasts only, rather than the entire duck. Many markets carry just the breasts these days, or a butcher can carve the breast from a whole bird for you. Freeze what you don't use.

This recipe is an excellent choice for one of those nights when guests are due and there's no time for lengthy cooking. It will take about 15 minutes to prepare the dish and an additional 10 minutes to cook it. And the tart-sweet flavor of the sauce complements the richness of the duck meat nicely.

SAUTEED DUCK BREASTS WITH GINGER-AND-LIME SAUCE

4 boneless duck breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds total), split

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces

1/3 cup sweet white wine, such as muscat blanc, California Riesling or sauterne

cup beef stock or broth

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Remove skin and fat from duck breasts. Mix coriander, salt and pepper in small dish and sprinkle over both sides of meat.

Mince ginger in food processor or by hand.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add duck. Cook, turning once, until cooked to desired doneness, either rare or medium. Rare meat will cook in 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, medium in about 5 minutes. If cooked beyond medium, meat will be tough. Remove from pan, tent with aluminum foil and set aside.

Turn heat to medium-high and add ginger, wine, stock or broth, lime juice and vinegar. Stir to dissolve any brown bits from bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes.

Pour sauce through fine mesh strainer, pushing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Wipe pan clean with paper towel. Return strained sauce to pan and add any juices that have collected around duck. Place over medium heat. Whisk in remaining butter, one piece at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding another.

To serve, cut each breast, on slight diagonal, into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange on plates so each breast is reassembled to its original shape. Spoon sauce over and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Note : If your market does not sell boneless duck breasts, a butcher can carve the breasts away from the bone, or you can do it yourself. Duck legs freeze well and can be braised or grilled for another meal.

Food styled by Norman Stewart; prop styling by Barbara Thornburg; props courtesy of Tesoro Collection, Ltd.

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