Succulent, aged Moulard duck breast with thyme, bay and a hint of freshly-grated nutmeg is pan-seared, then quickly roasted to a perfect medium-rare. Served with Armagnac-flamed pan juices, asparagus with garlic and parsley root, and gingered wild blackberry and cranberry chutney..
For the Chutney
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon rendered duck fat
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-grated ginger
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup wild blackberries
salt and pepper
Sauté the onions in duck fat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in ginger, vinegar, honey and cranberries. Lower heat, cover and simmer until all the cranberries have popped, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Adjust sweetness/tartness with a little vinegar or honey if you think it needs it, then season to taste with sea salt and cracked pepper. The finished mixture should be thick.
For the Duck (adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller)
1/2 fresh Moulard duck breast (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup Armagnac
Use a sharp, thin knife to score a cross-hatch pattern into the fat side of the duck breast, taking care not to cut into the muscle. Season on all sides with salt, pepper, thyme and nutmeg, then lay bay leaves against the flesh, loosely wrap in butcher’s paper and refrigerate overnight.
Allow to duck breast to sit on the counter for 20 minutes while you pre-heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the duck breast skin-side down to the hot pan, then reduce heat to medium low and cook, moving often, until the skin is golden brown and much of the fat has been rendered out.
Flip the breast over and sauté for 1 minute, then pour off the fat and place the pan in a 375 degree oven until almost medium-rare, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the duck to a cutting board and allow to rest at least 5 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, de-glaze the pan with Armagnac, and add a small knob of butter. Sauté diced parsley root until tender/crisp, then add garlic and thinly-sliced asparagus (a great way to use up leftover stalks) and sauté until the asparagus is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice the duck breast on a 1/4-inch bias and arrange on a warmed plate. Spoon asparagus and pan juices over the top and garnish with blackberry/cranberry chutney.