The real topic of this post is how to make the duck breast skin crispy.
If you ever watched the cooking competition shows you have probably heard from judges some words like "the skin is nice and crispy" or "unfortunately the skin is not crispy and not pleasant to eat". The truth is that for most people if the duck or chicken skin is not crispy and the fat is not rendered completely - it is not edible!
I am a big fun of duck in general and thus I care a lot about how it is prepared. Big part of flavor in duck breast is hidden in its skin and that is why it needs to be cooked properly in order to get as much of this flavor as possible.
Is it so hard then to achieve this perfect point? Not really - you just need a bit of patience. Skills involved - minimal - if you follow my instructions carefully, you will get a perfectly crispy duck skin and the meat cooked to your liking every single time!
Now the fun part begins:)
Tongues to turn the meat
Cutting board or plate
As I mentioned before the main purpose of this recipe is to make the perfect crispy skin. When it comes to the level of cooking of meat - I prefer mine medium so that is what I base the final cooking time on. If you prefer yours well done - just leave the meat 1 minute longer on the heat or allow it to rest on the pan for 3-5 minutes longer after taking out of the heat. The whole secret to rendering of all fat before the meat is cooked lays in the slow melting on low heat. This way we affect only the piece of meat that has a direct contact with the pan - skin and fat. The meat itself will cook very fast when the skin is ready. If we increase the heat too quickly we burn the skin, the fat is still there and the meat is probably over done. So let me guide you step by step how to prepare the duck breast properly so you can enjoy the perfect taste of this meat.
Firstly you need to prepare the raw duck breast. Cut the skin in the criss-cross pattern (check the video if you are not sure how to do it). Do not cut too deep as we want just the skin cut and not the meet. To do this quickly and efficiently use a sharp knife - it is easier to control the depth of cut if you do not have to use too much pressure - the knife should do all the work, not your muscles;) Always be careful, though, when using very sharp tools in the kitchen - it is easy to hurt yourself!
Season the duck breast on both sides with salt and pepper. Use as much spices as you like. You can also add different herbs or spices - I just enjoy the taste of the meat itself - that is why I limit the seasoning to basic one.
Put the duck breast on the COLD pan skin side facing down.
Turn the stove on the very low heat - I choose level 2 of induction kitchen. In this step we want to warm up the fat.
After 4-5 minutes increase the heat - I choose level 4. You still want the heat to remain quite low. This time you will observe that the fat starts to melt gradually. You can pour the fat into some container and later use it for roasting potatoes. After around 20 minutes when you remove the fat from the pan, the duck should stop releasing the fat. This indicates that we can start the process of cooking the meat.
Increase the heat - in my case up to level 6 - and observe the skin. It should turn dark brown in colour - which takes around 2 minutes.
Turn over the breast meat side down and cook for another 1 minute (for medium) or around 2 minutes (for well done).
Take the pan out off the heat and leave the duck breast on the pan facing the meat side down for at least 3 minutes to rest. During this time the process of cooking continues.
After resting the breast is ready to be eaten. You can cut it into slices - which is a great way to present the meat - and serve with some sauces or as a main course with any accompaniment you like. I like a rich red wine sauce with addition of plums to serve the duck breast with but I will leave it to your creativity.
Here is my idea of serving it with baked potatoes, quinoa, charred baby leaks and baked beetroot and blackberry sauce:)