Christmas season in our house pretty much guarantees roasted duck with some kind of savory fruit sauce. One of my favorite recipes is Long Island duck breast and tart cherry chutney. On Sunday, I made a relatively easy recipe that I prepare several times a year, Santa's Duck Breast and Tart Cherry Chutney. It's reminiscent of English and European holiday feasts and the bright red cherries are festive for the holidays. I made with mostly locally grown ingredients from Long Island and upstate New York, of course.
To prepare the duck for cooking, I scored both sides of the breasts. Scoring allows the fat to render and makes for a leaner meal and super crispy skin.
The tart cherry chutney sauce is always the star of the show made with onions, garlic, red pepper, tomato paste, fresh squeezed and local cherry juice, frozen cherries, and spices, including dried red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper.
When the chutney was cooked down to a consistency of a savory jam,I pureed a third of it in the blender until it was very smooth and set aside to glaze the duck. And, saved the the remaining two-thirds of "chunky" chutney to serve with dinner.
After cooking the scored duck breast, skin side down in a heavy skillet over low heat long enough to render the fat and crispen the skin (about 25 minutes), I removed all but one tablespoon of rendered fat (be careful it's very hot and there's a lot of it). Then, I spooned the tart cherry sauce glaze onto the breast and moved the heavy skillet to a 450 degree (F) oven for approximately 8 minutes to finish the breast.The color of the cherry glaze is a deep and regal red -- perfect for Christmas.
When the meat thermometer reached 135 degrees, the breast was medium rare. I moved it to a carving board and let it sit for 5 minutes tented under aluminum foil. A medium or well-done breast will be less moist so be sure to check the temperature for a perfectly cooked and succulent meal. Carve on a diagonal and reserve the juices.
Santa's Tart Cherry Chutney Duck Breast
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup Tart Cherry Stomp or other brand of tart cherry juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 10-ounce bag of frozen cherries (Cascadian farms)
½ cup Golden Raisins
4 boneless duck breasts with skin (approximately 6 ounces each)
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add onion, garlic, and spices stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and reduce heat to medium. Add red bell pepper until softened. Stir in tart cherry juice, vinegar and simmer over low heat. Stir in mustard and frozen cherries and continue to cook for about 6 more minutes. Shut off heat and let cool. Place 1/3 of the sauce into the jar of a blender and puree until very smooth (this will be used to glaze the duck). To finish the whole fruit chutney, add raisins. Can be prepared one day ahead.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Score duck skin in a crosshatch pattern with a small sharp knife and season duck with salt and pepper.
Heat an overproof skillet over medium heat until hot, then add duck, skin side down. Reduce heat and cook duck, uncovered, over low heat. Do not turn the duck. After about 25 minutes on a low heat, the fat will be rendered and the skin will be golden brown. Transfer duck to a plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from skillet. Brush duck all over with tart cherry puree and return to skillet, skin side up.Roast duck in oven until thermometer registers 135°F, about 8 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before carving into slices.
Serve with heated or room temperature tart cherry chutney.