Gastronomy: Duck w/Blueberry Sauce

Last night I made a dish that I was truly proud of upon the first bite, and I am not sure whether to be pleased or concerned that I had each of the necessary ingredients in my freezer and produce bin without having to take a single trip to the market. I strive for a well stocked kitchen…

Here’s how it plated out, duck breast with a blueberry sauce on sautéed bok choy, shallots, pancetta, and mushrooms, served with rosemary roasted potatoes.

I paired it with a moderately acidic Sicilian rosé, thinking that the acid would offset the sweetness of the blueberry sauce, however it really deserved something a little stronger to work with the duck breast so in retrospect a traditional syrah would have been a better choice.

The prep on this dish is not complex but there are several things going on in parallel so you have to multitask. Start with the potatoes, I cubed some russets and tossed with olive oil, dried rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper. In a baking dish arrange in a single layer and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until they start to brown.

The blueberry sauce is 1/2 cup of apple juice, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 pint of fresh blueberries. Bring to a boil and simmer until you achieve the consistency you like.

Sauté 2 or 3 pieces of pancetta until crisp, set aside and reserve the drippings in the pan. Slice 4-5 shallots (depending on size) and add to pan, slice shitake mushrooms coarse (couple of handfuls) and add to pan. When softened you need to remove mushroom and shallot mix and set aside. Slice 5-6 heads of bok choy an add to pan, sauté for 5 minutes or until soft, add back the mushroom and shallot mix and add pancetta (slice thinly). Remove from heat.

Next take the duck breast and season with salt, pepper, dried rosemary, and thyme (same as the potatoes). It is best to let meats come up close to room temperature so that they cook more evenly so I would suggest taking it out of the refrigerator an hour before you plan on cooking it. In a 12″ pan melt 2 tbs of butter and cut with some olive oil to increase the burn point (I used grapeseed oil which has an even higher flash point than olive oil and is pretty neutral in flavor). Heat over medium heat and place the duck breast in fat side down, letting it cook until the fat achieves a moderately brown color, then turn it over and cook until it registers 150 degrees in the middle.

Let the duck rest tented for 5 minutes and warm the bok choy to serving temperature. Slice the duck breast medium thin, plating on a spoonful of the bok choy and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Top with the blueberry sauce and serve with the potatoes.

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