It’s a few weeks after the holidays, and now that things have settled down, I’m ready to blog about some of the highlights.
My husband, David, and I spent our Christmas in Colorado with his family. It was our second Christmas as a married couple, but the first that we were in Colorado. We had the opportunity to decorate our house, see lights at Denver Botanical Gardens, make Christmas cookies with family, and make our own first Christmas dinner together.
But what to make? The traditional meals of our families on christmas included ham, turkey, prime rib, and fondue – none of which sounded exciting to my palate.
It had to be duck. I was pining for duck. I could envision nothing else but Christmas duck. So duck it was.
I picked up a couple duck breasts from Whole Foods and put together our Christmas magic.
Brie en croute with candied walnuts and cherry preserves
Roasted duck with a balsamic cherry reduction
Fried fingerling potatoes
I’m still licking my fingers over that one. The great thing was, prep time was only about 20 minutes and cook time was around 30 minutes. Which means, we had a gourmet meal in less than an hour – now that’s a Christmas tradition worth keeping!
On a side note: we recreated our Christmas feast with pork tenderloin a week later, using saved reserved duck fat for the potatoes and saved balsamic cherry reduction! It was a delicious reminder of our wonderful Christmas!
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 small (8-ounce) wheel or wedge of Brie
1/2 cup preserves of your choosing
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups rich duck or chicken stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon cold butter
Salt and black pepper
For the Duck Breast:
2 duck breast halves, 6-8 ounces each
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh or fried sage leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Score the duck breasts on the fatty side using a sharp knife, cutting about 1/8-inch into the skin in a cross hatch pattern. Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium-low heat. Season the duck breasts evenly on both sides with the salt and pepper, and place, skin side down, in the hot skillet. Cook the breast until the skin is crispy and most of the fat has rendered, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pour off the fat from the pan and reserve 2 tablespoons of it on the side. Turn the breast over, and place in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 3 minutes, and slice each breast into 12 slices. Serve while hot.
For the Fingerling Potatoes:
8 fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons rendered duck fat, reserved from cooking the duck breasts
Salt and pepper
Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool under running cold water. Once cool enough to handle, place the potatoes on a cutting board and slice in half lengthwise. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a 10-inch saute pan with the reserved duck fat over medium high heat. Place the potatoes, cut-side down, in the pan and cook the potatoes until browned and crispy, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve with the duck.
For the Haricots Verts:
1/2 pound haricots verts, stem ends trimmed
1 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Place the haricots verts in a 10-inch saute pan and cover with 1 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and place the butter in the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
*These recipes have been adapted from Ina Garten and Emeril Lagasse from the Food Network.