When using true wild duck, like mallard or field duck, you will need two whole breasts per person. Care must be taken not to overcook wild duck (nothing past medium) or you will get that dry, liver-like taste. You may also have to wash the pan with bacon fat or vegetable oil to keep the breast moist. If cooking wild duck breast, I suggest cutting the breast in 1/2-inch slices before serving, whereas if it is domestic duck, you don’t need to do that. The wild duck is a lot tougher and will need a cook’s knife as opposed to a table knife.
4 duck breasts, boneless, skin on, about 1 1/3 pounds
Freshly ground black pepper
8 small new potatoes, halved
10 spears asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch segments
6 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (morel, shiitake caps, hen of the woods)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Score the skin of the duck in a crosshatch pattern to release the maximum amount of fat. Season each breast with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper (much will fall off during the cooking process). Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook until the skin is well browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Baste the meat side of the breast with some of the released fat a few times during this process.
- Transfer the duck from the pan to a plate and set aside. Add the potatoes, cut side down, to the hot fat and transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Roast until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Leave the oven at 350°F.
- Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and stir in the remaining ingredients, re-seasoning with salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms begin to color and all of the ingredients are hot, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Return the duck breasts, skin side up, to the pan and pour in any juices left on the plate. Place the skillet in the preheated oven to roast all of the ingredients together for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for a few minutes to allow the duck breasts to rest before serving.
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