Boneless duck breasts are easier to cook than whole duck, and they take well to this salty, sweet, and spicy recipe. Most of the thick layer of fat on the duck breasts is cooked off and rendered crispy and delicious when seared in a heavy pan over high heat, the soy sauce and maple syrup caramelizing into a perfect crust.
For the duck breasts:
- 2 boneless duck breast halves, skin on
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black or green peppercorns
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
For the gingered scallions:
- 12 scallions, trimmed
- 1 2-inch (5-centimeter) piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
To make the duck breasts:
Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the duck breasts in a crosshatch pattern cutting into the fat. Be careful not to cut through to the meat. Season breasts with pepper, rubbing it into the meat on all sides.
In a shallow baking dish, combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, and grated ginger. Place the duck breasts in the dish and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the duck breasts from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Drain the breasts and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook until the skin side is golden and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and sear the other side another 3 minutes. Transfer breasts to a baking pan, cover loosely with foil, and cook in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the frying pan. Over medium-high heat, deglaze the pan by bringing the wine and vinegar to a boil and scraping up the crispy bits. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the reserved marinade and cook until thickened, at least 5 minutes.
To make the gingered scallions: Cut the scallions in half lengthwise and then cut on the diagonal into slices about 3 inches long. Cut the ginger into matchsticks.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan until very hot but not smoking. Add the scallions and ginger and fry over medium-high heat, without stirring, for 5 minutes or until the scallions are golden. Stir and continue cooking another 2 minutes or so.
Arrange the gingered scallions on a platter. Slice each duck breast crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and pour the sauce over the meat, stirring to coat. Serve atop the gingered scallions.
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Market Chronicles: Stories & Recipes from Montreal's Marche Jean-Talon, by Susan Semenak (Les Editions Cardinal, 2011)