Duck Breasts and Three Grain Risotto

My brother in law went to culinary school and worked as a cook for many years.  Whenever he comes to town, I always chose a dish that he can assist me with and teach me how to properly execute. 

Duck Breast with Orange Gastrique
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School

1 pound duck breast
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 orange, peel sliced into julienne strips, and juice reserved
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Trim away excess skin from the duck, leaving ample enough to cover the breast.  Score the fat, first cutting diagonally in one direction and then the other in a crosshatch manner.  Cut all the way through the fat but avoid the flesh.  Season both sides with salt and pepper and place in an unheated 10 inch skillet, fat side down. 

Cook over medium-low heat until a small pool of fat forms in the pan.  Use tongs to turn breast over and then cook the other side 1 minute.  Turn breast over again and pour out fat into a glass jar, reserve for another use.  Continue cooking duck until the skin is nicely browned and crisp, 10-12 minutes, spooning off and reserving excess fat as necessary.  Turn duck once more and cook until an instant read thermometer registers 125 degrees.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Bring a small pot of water to boil, add orange zest and simmer for 2 minutes, then drain, saving zest.  Heat sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat without stirring.  Once the sugar has started to melt, swirl the pan and continue cooking until it is uniformly amber, about 5 minutes more.  Pour in vinegar (watch your nose!) and stir with a wooden spoon to combine, then continue simmering and stirring until slightly reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes.  Pour in orange juice and add zest, simmer until reduced to a thick syrup and a foam forms on top, about 5 minutes longer. 

Top sliced duck with gastrique and candied zest.

Three Grain Risotto
Adapted from Pure Flavor

5 cups Chicken Stock, low sodium or homemade
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 tbsp evoo
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 oz fresh goat’s milk cheese

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer and keep warm until ready to use. 

In a large, heavy bottom 10 in or larger skillet, toast the barley over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until it smells nutty, about 5 minutes.  Add evoo and Arborio rice and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the wine is absorbed.  Ladle 1 1/2-2 cups of hot stock over the rice.  Stir frequently until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Ladle in additional 1 1/2 cups stock and stir until liquid is absorbed.  Add the orzo and continue adding stock un til the grains are al dente, about 30 minutes total. 

Remove pot from heat and stir in the Parmesan until it is melted and completely incorporated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately topped with a dollop of goat cheese.

Ryan Carr’s Asparagus
from my brother in law

Slightly bend asparagus to snap the ends off.  Fill a large pot with ice and water.  Bring another pot of water to boil.  Boil asparagus until bright green- about 45 seconds.  Drain from hot water and drop into ice water for 1 minute.  Heat oil (or in this case, duck fat), in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add asparagus and saute about 2 minutes.  Season with salt, freshly grated pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg.

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