Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mixed Pepper and Spice Marinated Duck Breast

The last time I enjoyed grilled duck breasts, they were prepared by a friend over her kitchen fireplace. I was walking in the door the moment she put the breasts to grill. It was my first dinner while visiting with her, and although it seemed simple and wholesome and an easy breezy way to enjoy them, when she cut them and served them up, I was convinced that wood fire is made for duck and duck made for wood fire.

This summer, when I saw the breasts when we were out doing some errands while visitng my in-laws, I thought it would be just the thing to enjoy with family. With Brigitte's things going on in the kitchen here and there, I set them to marinate for a few days while we waited for the chance to get a fire going in the garden.

For the spices, I raided Brigitte's cabinet and found many lovely spices to add to the mix. Black and pink peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns, black mustard seeds, and some juniper berries were ground and mixed with sea salt to cover the duck breasts with their heady delicious aroma.

They were marinated two days, while we waited for the right time to cook them.

We waited and waited for the right time to light a fire. It's dangerous in Provence to light fires when the wind is blowing, because everything is as dry as tinder. My spirits flagged when a strange summer Mistral rolled in and blustering winds kept going and going. In the end I decided to cook them my regular way, a reicipe that my niece Jessie helped research and adapt when she was visiting with me in France. She was about 13 years old at the time, and wanted to help, so we did some research into the best way to cook duck breasts. Under my guidance, she prepared them on mother's day for her mother. The process is classic. Sear the scored skin side to render the fat and make it crispy and brown, and put them under a hot broiler to finish. While they cook in the oven, quickly prepare a simple wine and cassis reduction sauce with the pan scrapings, finishing it with some butter.

Loic's family adored the recipe, and it brought back nice memories.



Blogger Jann said...

Absolutely gorgeous~a perfect summer meal on the barbie!

2:08 AM, August 30, 2007  
Blogger Joanna said...

I made duck breasts with virtually identical spicing - plus three lavender heads. If there's still some lavender around where you are, do try it, because it's unexpectedly delicious, and would go very nicely with the cassis reduction.

Celebrating world blog day!


3:28 PM, August 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful blog! First time I've visited. I think you meant to say "Mistral blew in" right? Not "Minstral." A completely different visual.....Keep up the beautiful work though!

8:05 PM, September 05, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Thank you for your comments, and your correction, anonymous! I must double check the spell check, that's for sure!

2:36 PM, September 16, 2007  

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