The Food Network’s ratings really only started taking off when they introduced competition shows into primetime; "stand-and-stir" demonstrations were sidelined in favor of competition shows. I prefer to watch chefs cook, but it's okay, because I’m happy not to have Must-See Food TV on weeknight evenings.
And as much as I complain about the Food Network, there is still some very credible teaching that goes on. I saved a couple of not-so-recent shows of Tyler’s and Anne’s on cooking duck breasts. I wanted to see if there really was more than one way to sear a duck breast.
I started with Anne. I loved it when she said (repeatedly), as she was scoring the fat, “We go down TO the flesh, but not THROUGH the flesh.”
That’s a great way to remember that you have to cut through ALL the fat, but stop when you get to the meat – TO the flesh, but not THROUGH the flesh.
Anne SHOULD watch what she says, though. She exclaimed, “I have HUGE breasts here.” And that wasn’t her only reference to breasts that sounded as if she were bragging.
Now this is interesting. Anne starts the duck breasts in a COLD pan and cooks them LOW AND SLOW. That way she renders all the fat without an explosion of fat globules covering the stove, chef and floor. I love that!
I adore duck breasts, but I usually have to gear myself up for the clean up, so cooking them without a lot of high-heat spattering appeals to me. Anne isn’t kidding when she says LOW and SLOW. Her method has the duck on the stove for 30(!) minutes and THEN in the oven for about 8.
Anne makes sure the fat side is browned after the low and slow part. Then she turns it over and quickly browns the flesh side before it goes into the oven.
Her duck came out beautifully rare, so she obviously wasn’t kidding about the LOW part. And it had a beautiful color. “Brown food tastes good,” she chirps. More about her sauce later.
’s duck searing…First, he’s getting little seckel pears ready to roast as an accompaniment. He rubs the pears around in sesame oil and salt and pepper and puts them cut side down to cook. He says they’ll get great color from “KISSING” the baking sheet. Don’t talk like that, Tyler . It gets me distracted, although this IS a show about what to cook on a first date. Tyler
Then he moves on to a sesame sauce for noodles, which will be served with the duck. Talking about the ginger,
says you don’t have to cut it super-sexy, because it’s going to be puréed anyway. BTW, he peels his ginger with a teaspoon. Excellent trick. Tyler
For the sauce,
smashes and peels the garlic cloves and they go into oil. Tyler
I’m sorry, but I would have to do my garlic thingie of removing the center, often-green stem from the garlic clove. I just can’t help myself. I’m convinced that center stem is evil and has to be removed to ensure there are no ill effects from garlic. It IS a pain, I know, but I never skip this step anymore.
This next step in the duck preparation is important, although
doesn’t make a big deal of it. Tyler scores the skin in one direction. (His scoring is much more delicate than Anne’s.) THEN instead of making the second row of scoring at a 90 degree angle, he does it at a 45 degree angle. This makes diamond shapes instead of little squares. SO much more attractive. Tyler
I also use that rule for any kind of lattice, whether I’m piping a whipped cream lattice or weaving a pastry lattice on top of a pie. The first line goes on straight across. The second one goes on at a 45 degree angle. This is even nice when you’re slicing brownies.
Here's another good point from
. He pours out the oil that’s building up in the pan, because he doesn’t want the duck to boil and he wants it to have really good contact with the pan. Tyler
Take my advice that BEFORE you pour out the fat, take out the duck first or you may have splashing duck breasts skidding across your stove (or floor). Just dedicate a dinner plate to setting the duck breasts on while you pour out the fat.
now, because although his sesame sauce sounds good, I’m going back to Anne’s Clementine Sauce recipe, because I have a boatload of clementines. Tyler
- Clementines make the most awesome juice. Really, really terrific. Squeeze extra to have as a treat. SO GOOD.
- I didn't have the patience to do Anne’s 30 minute “low and slow” cooking, but I didn’t cook them as quite as fast as Tyler did. I took the middle road.
- I skipped
’s noodles. It looks like a great recipe, but I HAVE to have Forbidden Rice when I cook duck breasts. To me, it’s a match made in heaven. To go with the rice, I like to make much more sauce than Anne does. Anne’s sauce is more of an accent to the dish than something to be served separately. Tyler
Seared Duck With Clementine Sauce (serves 4)
Printable recipe here
Printable recipe here
(With a shoutout to Anne Burrell because I love her idea of using clementines and to Tyler Florence, because he’s so cute and cooks duck so well)
4 duck breasts
1 cup fresh clementine juice
4 clementines, sectioned and each section cut into half
2 cups stock
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbls. cream
2 clementines, peeled with a knive and sectioned without pith
Score the duck breasts. Place them in a cold sauté pan. Turn heat to low. After 5 minutes, turn up to medium low and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Whenever the fat builds up in the pan, remove the duck to a plate and pour out the fat. Return duck to pan.
Raise heat to medium and cook until fat side is nice and browned, maybe another 4 minutes. Turn over and cook on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes until browned. Remove from pan and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Deglaze pan over high heat with clementine juice. Boil for a minute, then add clementines, stock and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer gently for 4 minutes. Add cream, if using. Bring to boil and taste for seasoning. If not adding cream, boil a bit more to thicken slightly. Taste clementine sauce for seasoning.
Slice duck. Spoon over a bit of the sauce. Garnish with clementine sections. Serve with Forbidden Rice and remaining clementine sauce.
Note: Here’s another duck recipe that I love with (ah!) fresh cherries.