When my clients asked me to shop in Montreal to make them dinner, I jumped at the chance. The produce at the markets is so beautiful and fresh and the selection of items seems to go on forever.
I had a wonderful time perusing the Jean-Talon Market and when I saw the duck breasts and tasted the red currants, I knew what I wanted to do. Seared duck breast with a red currant sauce and rainbow carrots with soft polenta. We rushed back to Maine and I got to work right away. The results were fantastic! Succulent duck with a crispy skin, fragrant polenta and sweet baby carrots all paired beautifully with the spice and acidity of the bold red currant-Cabernet sauce.
The following recipes will show you how to replicate this dish at home. When you break the dish down into individual components, you might be surprised at how simple it is to execute. The polenta and carrots can be prepared up to a few hours ahead of time, allowing you to focus on the duck and the sauce. When everything is ready, you simply heat, plate and serve!
Maple Glazed Baby Carrots
8-10 Baby Carrots
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Coarse Salt to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Peel carrots and trim green stems very short. Boil carrots for 10 minutes or until a knife pierces them with little resistance.
Collect carrots in strainer, remove from water and cool to room temperature. Place in a cold sauté pan with butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, simmer over medium-low heat until butter melts and sauce thickens into a glaze, 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse salt just before serving.
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Yellow Corn Meal
2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp White Truffle Oil
Combine chicken stock and milk in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add polenta, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, add remaining ingredients and heat on medium low while stirring. You may need to add additional liquid to thin if it becomes too thick. You can use chicken stock, milk or water. Polenta should be the consistency of porridge. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cabernet-Red Currant Reduction
1-2 Duck Breasts, depending on size and appetite
1-2 Shallots, Chopped or Sliced
1/2 Cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 Small Bunch Fresh Thyme
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2.5-3 Ounces Red Currants (if you are unable to find fresh currants, you may substitute your favorite fruit or berry (blackberries, cherries or plums would be nice)
4 Tbsp Cold Butter, cut into pieces
Heat a pan on the stove over medium heat and preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a very sharp knife, cut through the skin of the duck, first one way, then the other to make a diamond pattern. Be careful not to cut into the flesh.
Season liberally with coarse salt and place skin side down in the heated pan. As the duck cooks, the fat under the skin will render into the pan, eliminating the need for oil and making the skin crispy. Cook gently over medium heat for 5-7 minutes undisturbed until skin is golden brown and releases from the pan easily.
Turn heat up to medium-high, flip over the breast and sear the other side, about 3-5 minutes. Turn heat off and place the duck breast on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Cook in oven 2-3 minutes for medium rare, 5 minutes for medium. If you prefer your duck rare, just place it on the rack to rest. When duck is finished cooking, allow it to rest on the rack at least 5 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
While the duck is resting, turn the heat back on your pan, pour off any excess fat and add all remaining ingredients except the butter to the pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and reduce, mashing up currants to help them release their juices, until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Turn off heat and add the cold butter. Stir the melting butter into the sauce and as soon as butter is completely melted, pour through a strainer into a room temperature container. Place finished sauce in a warm, but not hot part of the kitchen until ready to serve.
After the duck has rested, place it on a cutting board, skin side down and slice with a sharp knife.
Place polenta, carrots and sliced duck on a warm plate and pour sauce around. Serve immediately and enjoy!