Pan-Seared Duck Breast
4 boneless duck breasts, skin on
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Bring duck breasts to room temperature, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Since the risotto takes longer to cook, start the risotto at this point. Once you are ready to cook the breasts (about 20 minutes prior to serving), pour oil into a nonstick skillet warmed to medium-high heat. Sear the duck, skin side first, ensuring the fat is rendered and the skin golden brown. Reduce heat to medium and turn to brown the other side, about 10-15 minutes total for medium rare. Let duck breasts rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. (When I kitchen tested this recipe, my husband, Ken, grilled the breasts, which I liked because it adds more flavor.)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup Merry Edwards Pinot Noir
1 cup chicken or duck stock
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup fresh berries, preferably blackberries
½ cup dried cherries soaked in Luxardo (Italian cherry liqueur -- I could not find this locally so I substituted 2 tablespoons Kirsch and 1 tablespoon sugar)
1-2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium sauce pan, cook balsamic vinegar and wine over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the stock and reduce by half again. Add rosemary, fresh berries and the soaked cherries and cook for about 3 minutes. Strain, pressing on the fruit to extract more juice; add butter to taste. This sauce can be made ahead as it will be re-warmed before serving.
Pea and Bacon Risotto
6 ounces lean bacon, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet peas, thawed
½ cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ small onion, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
3½ cups simmering chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Small pea sprouts for garnish
In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. In a food processor, puree half of the peas with the water and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is evenly coated with the oil. Add wine and simmer until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add enough chicken broth to barely cover the rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring until stock has been absorbed. Repeat, adding more stock and cooking until the rice is al dente and suspended in a creamy sauce. This takes about 25 minutes. Add pea puree, remaining peas and bacon and cook, stirring, until hot. Remove risotto from heat and stir in butter, reserved bacon fat, cheese and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For plating: Re-warm the berry sauce. Spoon sauce onto one side of the plate. On the other side of the plate, spoon a serving of the risotto; arrange the sliced duck breast on top of the berry sauce in a semi-circle around the risotto. Garnish with pea sprouts and serve. Enjoy!