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The Other Dark Meat

January 13, 1994|BEV BENNETT

When you've plucked all the possible chicken recipes from your repertoire and the holiday menu is still too recent to warrant another go-around with ham or turkey, serve duck.

It's rich, meaty, easy to fix and is a luxurious change from the usual meat or poultry dinner. Perhaps you've had thinly sliced duck breast in your favorite restaurant. It was grilled until pink in the center and dressed with a wine or cream sauce, and no doubt it was succulent.

Fortunately this can be done at home now that meat processors are selling boneless duck breast to supermarkets.

When cooking duck breast, you have to render the fat first; otherwise the duck skin will splatter too much fat in the broiler. Once that's done, duck cooks quickly. Five minutes under the broiler should do it.

In the recipe that follows, you can stop at any point and have a delicious duck dinner. For example, you can have plain broiled duck breast, or go to the next step and have duck breast in a marvelous mushroom, Scotch and cream sauce, or take the recipe to its final point and serve the mixture over pasta.

SCOTCH-FLAVORED DUCK AND MUSHROOMS OVER SPAGHETTI

1 boneless duck breast, cut into halves

2 shallots

6 ounces shiitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon Scotch whisky

1/4 teaspoon crushed, dried thyme

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream

1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained

Salt

Freshly ground white pepper

With sharp knife score duck skin in diamond pattern. Be careful not to cut through to flesh. Place duck, skin-side-down, in heavy skillet and cook over medium-high heat to render fat, about 5 minutes.

Place duck on broiler pan, skin-side-down, and broil about 5 inches from heat until nicely browned outside and pink inside, about 5 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, mince shallots. Remove and discard mushroom stems and slice caps.

Melt butter in large skillet. Add shallots and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes. Add Scotch and cook 1 minute. Mixture will sizzle. Stir in thyme and chicken broth and simmer 5 minutes.

Remove and discard duck skin. Slice duck breast meat across grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add 1/4 cup cream to skillet and cook over high heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add duck and heat through. Stir spaghetti into duck and sauce. If necessary, heat through 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons cream. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

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