Friday, January 29, 2010

Anne Exclaims Over Her (Duck) Breasts; Tyler’s Pears Kiss The Baking Sheet And I’m Convinced That (Part Of) Garlic Is Evil

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.

On to Tyler’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.
Then he moves on to a sesame sauce for noodles, which will be served with the duck. Talking about the ginger, Tyler 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.

For the sauce, Tyler smashes and peels the garlic cloves and they go into oil.
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 Tyler 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.

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.

Before Tyler even takes the duck breasts out of the fridge, he turns his pan on to medium low. (Anne’s pan was cold, remember.) He looks at the yellowish fat on the breasts and tells us that this indicates that they’ve had a good grain diet.

Tyler also says to cook them “low and slow”, but his “low and slow” duck will only be in the pan for half the time of Anne’s “low and slow” - about 15 minutes.

Here's another good point from Tyler. 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.

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.

I’m leaving Tyler 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.
Three more points:
  1. Clementines make the most awesome juice. Really, really terrific. Squeeze extra to have as a treat. SO GOOD.
  2. 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.
  3. I skipped Tyler’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.

Seared Duck With Clementine Sauce (serves 4)
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
For garnish:
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.


Term Papers said...

That’s a great way to remember that I have to cut through ALL the fat, but stop when I get to the meat TO the flesh, but not Through the flesh.

Term papers

Sue said...

Hiya TP,

Right! TO, but not THROUGH!

The only other kitchen chant I remember is from cooking school - Flour, Egg, CRUMB! Flour, Egg, CRUMB! I NEVER prematurely crumb anything EVER. And the idea of crumbing WITHOUT flouring is unthinkable to me.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I love duck so much. I'd cook duck breast more if my husband would eat it. I tried to make it for him once and he freaked. All of these recipes sound great. I really love your cherry one. Now I'm really looking forward to cherry season.

I caught the last 10 minutes of the new Mexican food show on FN this morning. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was what your review of it will be like.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Whoops. Also forget to reassure you I wasn't freezing in Chicago. The weather was close to balmy at times, although it was always overcast and often rainy.

Sue said...

Oh Rach!
I COMPLETELY forgot to Tivo the new show. It's done for next time, though, so sit tight. In the first few minutes that I saw (at the end of Tyler), she looks kinda cute and like she knew what she was talking about.

I'm so glad the weather wasn't freezing in Chicago, although it IS here now.

Can you make duck for you and chicken for him?

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Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

I'll never forget being horrified the way my oven looked after I roasted my first duck. I'm not one to keep the oven spotless, (I'd love to have whichever elf it is that cleans Giada's ovens come clean my house too), but that was too messy even for me.


Emily said...

Goodness. That sounds good! I want some. Do you have a juicer? I really want one. The idea of freshly squeezed clementine juice is appealing to me.

The low and slow cooking sounds like a good idea. Knowing my luck, I'd overcook the breasts. The big, juicy breasts I mean.

Sue said...

Hi Tom,
I know! It's kind of amazing how much fat comes off! I really have to psych myself to deal with it.

Do you mean a big fancy juicer OR a juice squeezing machine? Yes, I have a juicer - a really elementary, not high tech, Krups one (that works just fine for when I need it); No, I don’t have an electric juice squeezer like Ina has. I actually used an old-fashioned glass juice squeezer thingie, as well as a reamer. Clementines give up their juice so easily that you could just squeeze them by hand, but I wanted to get every drop.

I agree, overcooking big, juicy breasts is a bad thing, especially after all the handling that's involved.

Tony said...

Yes, it was a bit obscene-sounding when Anne discussed the "large breasts" although I've quite frequently giggled whenever I've heard RR tell us that she never met a sausage she didn't like.