I'm sure you've noticed the weather has been a bit crisp as of late (unless you live in the desert...or Hawaii)...September is definitely coming at us in full force, getting us ready for a beautiful fall season. That being said, the Fall gloves are out, the scarves are hung, and my Member's Only jacket has been dusted off. Yeah, you heard me right. Member's. Only. Jacket. I may be the last remaining member, and I like to consider myself the president. Besides those minor details, it's perfect for Fall weather. You know what else is perfect for this kind of weather? Duck! Sure, you can eat duck any time of the year, but specific preparations and accompaniments really make it appropriate for a brisk day. A slow heating to render off the fat (and save for later!), served with something braised maybe? Sounds about right. I was getting all up in Autumnal colors' business this time around as well - purples, reds, oranges, browns - I had to restrain myself from purchasing the world and going too over the top. I faired relatively well, all things considered.
So, what all are we working with here? Well, magret duck breast to be certain. Radicchio de Treviso - regular radicchio is cool if you can't find it. Blood Oranges. And some other stuff. A solid combination! I mean let's be real - duck + orange always = a good time. Add some warm spices, and you're good to go!
Spiced Duck Breast with Blood Orange Reduction, Braised Radicchio, and Root Vegetables
2 large magret duck breasts. (For 4, you want somewhere around 2 lbs total, so adjust depending on size, the ones I got were massive)
Fresh ground black pepper
~2 T ground cinnamon
To prep the duck breast, gently score the fat across the breast, each about 1/2 in apart, being sure not to cut into the meat itself. This helps render the fat properly. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to cook.
When ready to cook, dust both sides of the duck breasts with cinnamon. Place the duck breasts, skin side down in a large, cold saute or cast iron pan. Place the pan over medium heat and cook for at least 10 minutes, until the fat has rendered and is nicely browned and crisp. Turn and cook for 2 minutes longer for a good medium-rare. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil. and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice into 1/4-in thick slices.
Blood Orange Reduction
3 blood oranges, juiced
Yup. One ingredient. This juice is so good that it does not need ANY additional spices, herbs, butter....nothing. Just the juice, straight up. Bring to a boil, and reduce until it has reached a syrupy consistency. Reserve.
1 head radicchio, Treviso or other
1 cup chicken stock
Fresh ground pepper
Saba, to finish - you can use a good, thick balsamic here as well if you don't have saba
Trim the base of the radicchio, peeling off the outermost layer. Quarter the head of radicchio, being sure to keep the base intact, holding each quarter together. In a sauce pan, bring the chicken stock to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Gently add the radicchio to the liquid and let cook until the base/core is fork tender. Once you get to this point, you can bring the liquid back to a boil and reduce it until it's almost gone. This will concentrate the flavor of the stock with any liquid released from the radicchio. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to plate.
Roasted Root Vegetables
4 long, thin sunchokes (Jerusalem artichoke)
6 'spring' onions or cipollini onions, halved
~4 T olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 c water, vegetable, or chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 350F. In two small, separate pans (tall sided for the onions), individually toss the onion and the sunchoke with 2 T olive oil, a generous pinch of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss until well coated. Place the water or stock in the pan with the onions, and cover with foil. Place in the oven, and cook for about 40 minutes, or until fork tender.
To plate, divide all of your components up evenly. Honestly, the best part of this dish is the duck with the blood orange reduction, combined with the saba radicchio...that, my friends, could be a dish in and of itself. But as we know, sometimes I go overboard. Either way, the ingredients came together perfectly!
On a serving plate, brush or spoon a bit of the blood orange reduction onto the plate, and layer a few slices of duck over top. You can drizzle the reduction over top as well, but frankly, it actually looks like blood so...depending on who you're with you may want to forgo that. Sprinkle with a few finely minced chives. Place one quarter of radicchio around the duck, and drizzle with a bit of saba - this adds a little more umami-ness to the radicchio, and also helps balance out the bitterness with a touch of sweet. Scatter around some sunchokes (finished with olive oil and sea salt) and onions (finished with blood orange zest) and get ready to dig in!