Duck breast with maitake mushrooms, wine reduction & beets-papaya purée

Ingredients:

For The Duck

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 3-4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

For The Sauce

  • 1/4 of a large yellow onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 of red bell pepper minced
  • 1/2 tbsp of all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (I used a Malbec)
  • 3/4 cup of chicken stock (you may not use it all)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

For The Mushrooms

  • Maitake mushrooms (cut into smaller pieces)
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 oregano sprig
  • salt to taste

For The Beets-Papaya Purée

  • 3 small golden beets minced
  • 1/4 of a papaya chopped
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 6 – 8 fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsps of butter
  • 1 cup of chicken/vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

The Duck Breasts

To begin cooking the duck make sure the breasts are dry and at room temperature. Take the duck breasts out of the fridge 20 – 30 minutes before cooking them and let them sit on an sizzling plate wrapped with paper towel to absorb all the moisture. 

Score the skin on the duck breasts in a crisscross fashion and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.

Place the duck breasts skin side down on a large cast iron skillet and bring the heat to medium-high. Notice how you must place the duck breasts in the pan while it is still cold to allow all the fat on the skin to render down slowly as the pan heats up. This prevents the skin from overcooking.

Cook the duck breast skin side down for 4 – 6 minutes until the skin turns golden brown. Then turn the duck breasts and add 2 tbsps of butter plus the thyme and rosemary. Finish cooking the breasts for 2 minutes on the other side. Remember to baste.

Remove the duck breasts from the pan and let them sit for about 8 – 9 minutes. About the same time it took to cook them.

The sauce

As the duck breasts rest, add the chopped onions and garlic to the same skillet where you cooked the duck breasts and stir. You want the onions and garlic to deglaze the pan -clean up everything that was on the pan as to incorporate all that flavor into the sauce. Cook the onions and garlic for 1 – 2 minutes then add the minced red bell pepper. Cook for 3 minutes until the bell pepper is tender. 

Add the butter and melt, then add 1/2 tbsp of all purpose flour and mix in well. Once the butter and the flour have mixed together and there are no clumps of flour you can add the wine.

Stir well until the wine thickens, this will happen rather quickly. When the wine starts to thicken add 2 tbsp of soy sauce followed by 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Continue stirring and slowly add some chicken stock. Keep adding chicken stock in small bits (1 minute at a time) until you reach desired consistency and taste. The sauce should coat the back of your spoon when done.

When ready, strain the sauce from the pan into a bowl. The sauce is ready to server. As the sauce cools down it will thicken a little more.

The Mushrooms

Bring a non-stick pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp of butter. When the butter has melted add the mushrooms and season well with salt. Add a sprig of fresh oregano and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until the mushrooms turn golden brown. 

Maitake mushrooms cook fast, especially when cut in smaller pieces as I did. Make sure your mushroom pieces are relatively the same size so they will cook evenly.

The Beets-Papaya Purée

Bring a pot to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the butter and melt. Then add the chopped shallots and garlic and cook until the onions are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent the shallots and garlic from burning.

Add the minced beets to the pot and stir. Cook the beets down for a few minutes while stirring to make sure not to brown them. We want the beets to stay yellow to maintain that beautiful bright color in the purée. After cooking the beets down for about 5 minutes add the stock. Make sure to add enough stock to barely cover the beets. You may not use the whole cup but that’s OK – We can always add more as needed if the stock reduces too much. Add the herbs [sage and oregano] into the pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes. 

Finally, add the chopped papaya and a little more stock if needed. Bring the water back to a simmer and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then add a tbsp of lemon juice and stir.

Make sure to taste and season at this point – Add some salt and pepper to taste. Once you are satisfied with the seasoning, transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and blend

Plating

Purées are a great way to add color to your plate. I pated this dish two ways:

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