This year I’m thankful to be with my mom and grandpa for Thanksgiving. We haven’t been together for this holiday in a long time. Mom and I spent a cozy, companionable afternoon, grocery shopping for ingredients and then cooking up this simple but scrumptious feast.
Why have turkey when you can have duck? Duck breast fries up nicely in its own fat. Serve medium-rare with a honey, balsamic vinegar, and lime juice glaze. On the side, candied sweet potatoes, and a simple green salad with peach slices, and a touch of vanilla in the dressing.
For dessert, my mom’s favourite: apple crumble, made with the apples I picked last weekend. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
HONEY-GLAZED DUCK BREASTS
from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
- 2 large duck breasts or 4 small ones, at room temperature
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- juice of 1 lime
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- With the point of a sharp knife, score the skin side of the duck breasts in a cross-hatch pattern. Cut deeply into the fat but take care not to nick the meat. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a skillet, or even better, a Dutch oven, until a few drops of water sprinkled into it dance on the surface and evaporate. Put the breasts in, skin side down. Be careful of the spatter. Cook for 8 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crisp. Turn them over and cook for 3-5minutes more, depending on how rare you like them. Keep in mind that they will cook some more as they rest in the oven.
- Remove the breasts from the pot and onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Fold it up loosely and place in an oven-proof dish in the heated oven. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- While the breasts are resting, you can assemble the salad. See recipe, below.
- Pour the duck fat out of the pot but leave in a teaspoon or two. Save the rest of the fat for frying potatoes. Warm up the oil over medium-high heat and stir in the honey, balsamic vinegar, and lime juice, along with any juices that have accumulated in the foil package. Stir and cook for a minute. Return the breasts to the pot to reheat, about 30 seconds on each side.
- Slice the duck and serve with the sauce.
GREEN SALAD WITH PEACHES AND VANILLA DRESSING
Add peach slices to your favourite green salad mix. In a small bowl, whisk together a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, about a teaspoon of vanilla, and salt. Toss the dressing into the salad just before serving.
I got this great tip out of Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life. When making the topping for crumble, freeze a stick of butter and grate it into the dry ingredients. This saves you from having to cut up the butter into small cubes and then working it until you get those required “pea-sized” pieces.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel and cube:
- 6 tart apples (Mackintosh or Granny Smith)
Place the apples in an oven-proof dish and toss with:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- juice of half a lemon
In a small bowl, mix with your fingers:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup grated frozen butter (use the coarse side of a box grater)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.