I like to follow the mantra "set it and forget it" with this recipe. We're all busy, right? And the two most important steps to making these delicious sandwiches involve waiting. Pop the duck breasts in the brine, tuck them in the back of the fridge, and remove the meat in a few days, then toss them in the crockpot. All you have to do after that is assemble the sandwiches.
I like to use pre-made pickling spice mix—it's a perfect canvas for layering additional flavor. There's no reason you can't use the legs here either, but I tend to reserve those for pasta or confit. The type of salt that goes into the brine is also key, so be sure to get the good stuff.
Also, if you’re not feeling like a sandwich, this meal can easily be turned into a riff on the classic corned duck and cabbage.
- 4-6 duck breasts, skin on
- 2 qts. water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup coarse kosher salt
- 3 tsp. #1 pink curing salt
- Three garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ cup pickling spice mix
- Optional spices: fennel seed, dried herbs, dried mushrooms, cardamom
- Brined duck breasts
- 1 qt. water or game stock
- ½ cup each carrot, celery, onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¼ cup pickling spice blend
- A few dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
Thousand Island Dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup dill pickle relish
- ¼ cup white onion, minced
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire
- ½ tsp. coarse kosher salt
- ½ tsp. cracked black pepper
- Brined and slow-cooked duck breasts
- Pumpernickel bread
- Pepperjack cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Thousand Island dressing (store-bought or homemade)
- Duck fat or butter
Also works with
- Combine all of the brine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes then remove the brine and chill it in the refrigerator. Transfer the brine to a covered plastic container, add the duck breasts, and leave it in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. You might need to place something heavy over the duck to keep everything fully submerged in the brine.
- Once the duck breasts are brined, place them in a crockpot or slow cooker with all of the slow cooked duck ingredients. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Strain the liquid then cover the duck with the liquid, allowing it to cool in the refrigerator.
- Next, make the sauce. I like making my own Thousand Island. It's easy and can go on everything from veggies to burgers. Combine the dressing ingredients and stir well. Cover and let it sit in the fridge.
- Remove the fat from the chilled breast meat and cut into large chunks. In a sauté pan on high heat, add a tablespoon of duck fat (cooking oil or butter will work too). Add enough meat and sauerkraut for your desired amount of sandwiches and sear until heated through and crispy. Finally, add a tablespoon or two of the Thousand Island and toss everything together in the pan. Remove the pan from heat.
- Place a cast iron or large sauté pan over medium heat. Slather a healthy amount of butter on the outside of the pumpernickel bread. Start with swiss cheese, add some dressing, then place the corned duck and sauerkraut on top and finish with pepperjack. Sear both sides of the reuben until the cheese has melted and the outside is crispy. Slice and serve with extra sauce for dipping.
- If you want gravy with the meal, you can thicken the strained crockpot jus with a light roux. And if you're looking for a really crispy finish to the bread, toss the sandwiches into an oven at 450°F or a toaster oven on high for 5 to 10 minutes.