Duck with FigsFeatured by Square Peg Winery in the Pinot Noir Wine Club.
A decadent combination of the savory duck and the sweet fig make for a wonderful mid-week meal or a special occasion dinner. Serve with a bottle of the Square Peg Pinot Noir. **Duck will need to marinate for at least 2 hours.Yield: 4
Prep Time: 95 Minutes
Cook Time: 65 Minutes
For the Duck:
• ½ tsp black peppercorns
• ½ tsp juniper berries
• 2 bay leaves
• 1½ tbsp. sea salt
• 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• 4 large, plump duck breasts
For the Figs:
• 8 plump, firm figs
• 3 tbsp. honey
• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Crush the pepper, juniper and bay leaves roughly using a mortar and pestle. Add the salt and garlic and crush these, too, but don't grind finely. Rub this mixture all over the duck breasts, on both sides, then put them into a dish, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least two hours (or overnight if you can).
It's nice to serve the figs lukewarm, so you will need to back-time them to ensure they're the right temperature. They cook in about 20 minutes. Snip off the stems, halve each fig lengthwise, then put them into a gratin dish in which they can sit snugly in one layer (if there is too much space the moisture evaporates and they burn). Drizzle the honey and balsamic over the top and season. Roast in an oven preheated to 400° for 20 minutes, spooning the juices over them a couple of times during cooking. The figs should be dark and tender – they should not have collapsed. Leave the oven on.
Take the breasts out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Scrape the spice mixture off the skin side of each breast. Heat an oven-proof frying-pan over a high heat. Put the breasts in, skin-side down, and cook until the fat starts to run out and the skin is golden – about three to four minutes. Turn the breasts over and cook them on the other side until colored. Put them in the oven and cook for seven to 10 minutes.
Remove the breasts after seven minutes and cut into the underside of one to see how well it's done – you want breasts that are rare, but not actually raw, in the center (if you don't like them very rare, cook them to your liking, but grey duck breasts really aren't a treat). Put them back in the oven if they're not quite ready. When they're done cover and set aside to rest for about eight to 10 minutes so the juices can 'set'.
Carve each breast into slices and serve one for each person. You can either put the figs on the plate as well or serve them at the table. This is delicious with a salad of lamb's lettuce and toasted hazelnuts (dressed with a nut-oil dressing) and potatoes sautéed with rosemary and garlic.