Christmas was always a confusing time for my family. Growing up half Jewish (on my mother’s side), half British, and half Texan, with divorced parents, made the season a game of tug of war between my parents’ cultures and traditions –– and I was the rope.
The fam (on my mother’s side) did have one consistent tradition: Duck was on the menu every year. I loved Christmas duck, and I think you’ll love these two recipes from local chefs Heather Kurima, president of the Fort Worth Chef’s Association, and Mark Hitri, formerly of Saint Emilion Restaurant and currently an instructor at the Fort Worth School of Culinary Arts.
Apricot-Glazed Duck Breasts with Cranberry Chutney
By Heather Kurima
2 cups small dried apricots, diced; 1 orange, zested; 2 cups sugar; 2 cups water; 2 tablespoons honey; ½ teaspoon vanilla paste; ½ teaspoon cardamom; ¼ teaspoon allspice; ¼ teaspoon coriander; 1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced; 1 cup fresh cranberries; 1 cup dried cranberries; 1 cup red wine; 4 boneless, skin-on duck breasts
1.) Combine the apricots, orange zest, sugar, water, and honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let that simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove it from the heat and add the vanilla paste, cardamom, allspice, coriander, and sage.
2.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
3.) Score the fat on the duck breasts, making diamond patterns. Season the duck on all sides with salt and pepper.
4.) Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a hot (oven-safe) sauté pan and cook until the fat is rendered and the skin is crispy (about 5 minutes). Turn the duck over and coat with half of the apricot glaze. Place the sauté pan in the oven and cook another 5-15 minutes, depending on how done you like your bird.
5.) While the duck is roasting, add the cranberries and red wine to the saucepan with the remaining apricot mixture. Simmer until the mixture is thick. Serve the duck with the cranberry chutney.
Duck Breast with Beluga Lentils and Blood Orange Gastrique
By Mark Hitri
1 ½ cup beluga lentils; 1 small bulb of fennel, diced; 1 sweet red bell pepper, diced; 2 shallots, diced; 3 garlic cloves, chopped ; 2 bay leaf; 1 tablespoon chopped parsley; 5 cups chicken stock; 3 blood oranges; 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar; 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seed; 1 teaspoon crushed anise seed; 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed; 1 tablespoon blood orange zest; ½ cup honey; 4 duck breasts; salt and pepper to taste
1.) Sauté the fennel, red bell pepper, and 1 shallot until soft, then add garlic and sauté a few minutes more. Add 3 cups of the stock and lentils, bring to boil.
2.) Lower the heat, add the parsley and orange zest, simmer at low-medium for about 30 minutes.
3.) Score the duck breast skin without cutting the meat, and season the duck breasts with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4.) Over medium heat in a hot cast iron skillet, sear the breasts skin down for about 3-4 minutes until crispy. Quite a bit of fat will render, so pour out the excess and save it before putting the duck in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Let the breasts rest a few minutes before slicing.
5.) For the gastrique, sauté 1 shallot with duck fat until browned. Add crushed coriander, fennel, and anise seeds, and sauté until you smell a fragrant aroma.
6.) Add honey, vinegar, blood orange juice, and 2 cups of stock, and reduce by half.
7.) Place the lentils on a warm plate and place the sliced breasts on top. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the gastrique over the breasts and garnish with supremes of blood oranges.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas, and, if you’re a grumpy right-winger, have a happy holiday!