Last weekend, I caught up with an old friend who I hadn't seen in months. These days, catching up with friends is like killing two birds with one stone because it means I get to make a recipe for the blog and feed someone I love. When I asked my friend Tiffany if she had any requests, she enthusiastically replied, "Duck!" I had made duck for her once a long time ago, and I guess it stuck.
For this occasion, I paired the duck with a bright carrot puree, sautéed kale and radicchio with almonds, and duck fat potatoes and carrot spears. Then I topped it off with my leftover cherry-gochujang sauce, which I had made for my roast beef a few nights prior, and it complemented the dish perfectly. If you get a little bit of everything on one fork, it makes pretty much the perfect bite.
If you've ever made duck, then you probably know the importance of rendering the fat, which essentially means turning the solid layer of fat on the outside of the duck breast into liquid. That liquid fat can then be saved and refrigerated or frozen for future use. I chose to use it right away to sautée some yukon gold potatoes and carrot spears. And since I had a ton of carrots, I also made a purée, which is truly one of the easiest things to make — it's only three main ingredients! Recipe below.
1 medium to large duck breast (to be split into two servings)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small carrots (about 4 cups), speared
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, halved
Half a bunch of kale, deveined and chopped into 3" squares
Half a medium head of radicchio, sliced
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
For the carrot purée:
2 large carrots (about 4 cups), roughly chopped into 1/2" chunks
2 cups coconut milk
2 teaspoons grated ginger or cut into thin matchsticks
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Score the fat layer on the duck breast and liberally season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the purée: add the carrots, milk, and ginger to a sauce pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat down to low, add the sugar and cinnamon, season with salt and pepper, and let simmer for 20 minutes or under fork tender. Transfer to a food processor, in batches if necessary, and purée until smooth. Leave out some of the cooking liquid if you prefer a thicker purée.
- Add the potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and turn down to medium; let simmer and cook until fork tender.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a sauté pan and add the garlic, cooking until fragrant (be careful not to burn!), and add the kale, radicchio, and almonds. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the kale and radicchio are wilted and tender. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the pan and stir to coat.
- Add the remaining olive oil to a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat and add the duck breast, fat side down, when the pan is hot enough to make the duck sizzle when it touches. Sear both sides until golden brown and caramelized, flip back over fat side down, turn down the heat, and continue to render the fat. Add a little water if it starts to darken too much.
- When the fat has been rendered down, put the skillet in the oven and roast for 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare (which I prefer), which should register 135°F on a thermometer. For medium, turn off oven when the temp reaches 150°F. And for well-done, turn off when it reaches 165-170°F.
- Remove the duck breast and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Do not discard the fat in the skillet. Add the carrot spears and sauté on medium-high heat until they're tender but still have a bite. Add the potatoes and sauté just enough to coat the potatoes in the duck fat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange an equal number of slices of duck breast on each plate along with everything else and top with cherry-gochujang sauce.