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Ducks in Flight
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La Belle Cuisine
Duck Breast with
Niçoise Olives and Lemon Confit
Great American Food
by Charlie Palmer with Judith Choate,
1996, Random House
“You might want to serve this duck over a steamed
grain such as
couscous, or even mashed white or sweet potatoes, or better
accompanied by Butternut Squash Flan."
2 pounds duck
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups mirepoix *
1 Sachet ♦
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups veal stock
6 large boneless duck breasts
1/2 cup sliced, pitted Niçoise olives
1/4 cup Lemon Confit (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup Tomato Oil (optional)
6 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
*Mirepoix - equal parts of
finely diced carrot, onion and celery
♦Sachet (bouquet garni) - A bunch of parsley about the size of
10 peppercorns, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and
2 bay leaves tied in a
Preheat oven to
375 degrees F.
Cut bones into 2-inch pieces. Place them in a small roasting pan in
preheated oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until
well browned. Remove from oven and place the pan over medium heat. Add 1/2
cup red wine and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, or until the pan
is deglazed and liquid has evaporated. Scrape into a medium saucepan. Add
mirepoix and sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in remaining cup of wine and sachet
and cook for 5 minutes. Add stocks and bring to a boil. Lower heat and
45 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Remove from
strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Set aside.
Season duck breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy skillet over
medium heat. When very hot but not smoking, add breasts, skin side down.
Cook, draining off excess fat from time to time, for 14 minutes, or until
most of the fat is rendered out and skin is nicely browned and crisp. Turn
and cook for 3 minutes, or until meat is cooked to medium and still moist
the center. Remove to a warm platter. Cover lightly and keep warm.
Drain any excess fat from the skillet. Place over medium heat and add
olives, confit, and shallots, stirring constantly to bring up any bits of
stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in reserved sauce and cook,
stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and
pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley and remove from heat.
Using a very sharp knife, cut the duck breasts on the bias into thin slices.
Arrange one breast, slightly fanned, in the center of each of 6 warm plates.
Spoon equal portions of sauce over the top. If using, drizzle some tomato
oil around the perimeter of each plate and garnish with a parsley sprig.
Suggested Wine: A fruity
red wine, such as Ridge Zinfandel
A Note from Judie: All
domestic ducks raised in the United States today are the descendants of
either Mallard or Muscovy ducks. The best known of these is the
large-breasted Long Island duck, also known as Peking duck because it is the
progeny of a drake and 3 hens that arrived on a clipper ship from China in
A Note from Charlie: Since
you will be cutting the breasts from whole ducks,
use the legs for confit,
the bits and pieces of leftover meat in hors d’oeuvres
or appetizers, and
the bones for stocks and sauces.
Makes 1 cup
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
8 thick-skinned, blemish-free lemons
Combine 1/2 cup
sugar and the salt. Cut the two ends from the lemons. Using a very sharp
paring knife, carefully peel the lemons in one continuous turn from the top
to the bottom, removing the yellow rind only. Cut the rind into small batons
1 inch long by 1/4 inch wide and place in a nonreactive container. Pour the
sugar-salt mixture over the rind and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate
for 3 days.
Lightly rinse rind under cold running water, Combine with 2 cups of water in
a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and
drain well. Place rind back in the saucepan. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and
2 cups of water and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Lower heat
and simmer for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and pour into a
nonreactive container to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate until ready
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