Duck Breasts with Almonds, Garlic and Cumin

July 23, 2009  •  Meat & Poultry

I’m currently reading a really great book, A Hungry Woman in Paris, and it got me thinking about my last trip to France which included a week at the somewhat famous cooking school of Susan Hermann Loomis in Louviers, a small town outside of Paris in Normandy. All of the food and wine from that week was fabulous, but I especially liked this duck dish, so thought I’d share the recipe with you.
Duck breasts can be found packaged individually or in pairs in the frozen foods section of better groceries, or you can buy duck fresh from a farmer like I do. Make sure to cook the breast low and slow on the first side to render out all of that fat from the skin.

Duck Breasts with Almonds, Garlic and Cumin
Serves 6 to 8
Recipe compliments of Susan Hermann Loomis, reprinted with permission
Printable Recipe
Individual duck breasts are simple to cook yet elegant to serve.

2-3 pounds fattened duck breasts (skin on)
1½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ cups whole almonds, coarsely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt

Bring the orange juice to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the liquid has reduced to about 3/4 cup. Remove from heat, whisk in balsamic vinegar and reserve.

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the dusk breasts, skin side down, until the skin is golden brown and most of the fat has melted, about 8-10 minutes. Turn the duck and cook until the meat is cooked on the outside but still medium rare, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the duck breasts and place them on a cutting board that will collect any juices. Season with salt and pepper.

Place 2 tablespoons of the melted duck fat into a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the almonds. Cook until toasty but not burned, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin and salt and cook until the garlic is golden and the cumin is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt.

Pour any juices from the resting duck into the orange sauce and whisk in the butter over very low heat so that it slightly thickens the sauce. To serve, mound a spoonful of the almonds onto each plate, slice the duck and lay overlapping pieces on top of the almonds, then drizzle with a little of the orange sauce.

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