Magret de Canard with Apples and Maple, Quebec-Style
2 Tbs. rendered duck fat or vegetable oil
1 magret (Moulard duck breast, about 2 pounds); cut into 2 breast halves
2 tart cooking apples (such as Cortland,
McIntosh, or Spy), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch slices
3 large shallots, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups duck or chicken stock
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or less, if a
less sweet dish is desired)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter.
Heat the duck fat in a heavy, 10-inch skillet over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the breast halves and quickly brown it on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove the breast halves to a plate and set aside. Stir in the apples, shallots, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Increase the heat to high, stir in the cider vinegar, and cook until the mixture is almost dry, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, bring the liquid to a bare simmer, and add the breast halves and any accumulated juices. Braise the breast halves slowly for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning it once with tongs, until it's medium-rare. Remove the breast halves and the apples (use a slotted spoon) to plates and keep warm separately. Discard the bay leaf. Over very high heat, reduce the sauce until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Holding your knife at a 45 degree angle to the cutting board, slice the breast halves crosswise into 16 pieces. Place the apples on 4 serving plates, and top with the breast halves fanned over the apples. Spoon the sauce over and serve immediately.