Yesterday, while walking through the Marktplatz in the center of town, I came across one of the butcher’s stands that setup there a couple of times a week. Peeking in through the display, I found something I had been looking for since getting here–duck breasts. Immediately buying one (€8.80 for a .44Kg, roughly 1 pound breast), I headed home and started pouring over recipes to decide how I wanted to cook it.
Eventually, I settled on duck a l’orange, mainly because the ingredients were easy to find. You need a thick, somewhat sweet sauce to go with duck, and this fit the bill without any obscure ingredients that would be very hard for me to find. A quick trip to the grocery store later, and I was ready to cook.
The thing that surprised me the most about cooking it was how much the breast smoked when cooking. Duck has a thick layer of fat under the skin, necessitating scoring the skin with a knife before cooking so the fat can drain out. Combine that with the relatively high heat needed to get the skin crispy, and there was plenty of smoke. Good thing there aren’t any smoke detectors, because I certainly would have set them off. After getting it nice and crispy, I threw it in a barely warm oven to keep it warm while I worked on the sauce, a reduction of carmelized sugar, water, orange juice, chicken stock, sherry vinegar, orange peel, and, the reason I cooked the duck breast first, drippings from the cooking of the breast. After letting it reduce down into a sauce-like consistency, I sliced the breast into thin strips, fanned them out on the plate, and spooned the sauce over them. By far the best meal I’ve had since getting here.
And the best part is, I still have half of the breast in the freezer. I’ve gotta decide how I’m gonna cook that one…