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The Other Red Meat

February 22, 1996|BEV BENNETT

Since pork producers are successfully marketing their product as "the other white meat," duck producers might do well to launch a campaign for "the other red meat." The resemblance to flank steak, for example, isn't obvious when duck is served whole. But sliced duck breast, fanned out on a plate, is very appealingly meaty-looking.

When duck is well browned outside and rare at the center, it is every bit as succulent as a beef steak. Better supermarkets carry or will order duck breast. Although it seems expensive, most of it is edible boneless meat.

When a butcher refers to a duck breast, he means both lobes, which yield one generous or two standard servings. Packaged frozen duck breast is usually sold in twos (four lobes or halves). Leftovers are great in salads or wrapped in tortillas and topped with salsa.

The only trick to preparing duck breast is rendering the fat from the skin so the duck doesn't swim in it during cooking. Slash the skin in a diamond design and cook, skin side down, in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until the fat is released. This can be a messy job; dress accordingly.

DUCK BREAST WITH FRUITY PEPPER RELISH

Hungarian cherry peppers are usually mild, although some can be as hot as a jalapeno chile. Taste before adding to the relish to avoid surprises. If you can't find cranberry vinegar, substitute 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar.

FRUITY PEPPER RELISH

1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

1 small Hungarian cherry pepper, cored, seeded and minced

1 medium navel orange, peeled, seeded and diced

1/4 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

Combine peppers, orange and cranberries in bowl. Add 1 tablespoon maple syrup and stir. Taste. If mixture is too tart, add remaining syrup.

ROAST DUCK

2 duck breasts (4 halves)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 garlic clove, halved

1 1/2 tablespoons cranberry vinegar

1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground white pepper

Rub skin side of duck breasts with cinnamon and garlic. Using sharp knife, score skin but do not cut through flesh. Place duck breasts, skin side down, in heavy skillet and cook over medium heat 5 minutes to render fat. Pour off fat.

Place duck in medium oven-proof shallow dish or pan. Combine vinegars, soy sauce, maple syrup and olive oil in cup. Pour over duck. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes.

Place dish with duck, skin side up and still in marinade, in oven. Bake at 400 degrees until breast is browned outside, rare inside, about 15 minutes.

When duck is done, remove and discard skin. Thinly slice meat and arrange on 2 plates. If desired, skim off fat from marinade in baking dish. Pour marinade into small pan and bring to boil. Boil 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Pour over duck slices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Fruity PepperRelish.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Each of 2 servings contains about:

1,095 calories; 772 mg sodium; 173 mg cholesterol; 97 grams fat; 28 grams carbohydrates; 29 grams protein; 0.53 gram fiber.

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