Every Thursday on the Good Food Blog we share a recipe from our archives.
Chef Jerry Traunfeld of The Herbfarm tells us how to cook with fresh farm ingredients. His book, The Herbal Kitchen : Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor, explores how we can use herbs in our kitchens at home. He first shared this recipe for Lavender-Rubbed Duck Breast with Apricots and Sweet Onions on January 14, 2006.
Keep reading for the full recipe…
Lavender-Rubbed Duck Breast with Apricots and Sweet Onions
- 4 large boneless duck breasts (about 2 lbs), preferably Muscovy, skin on
- 2 Tablespoons lavender buds, fresh or dried
- 1 Tablespoon dried coriander seeds
- 1 tsp dried fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 tsps kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large sweet onion, thickly sliced
- 8 fresh apricots (12 ozs), pitted and quartered, or 1 cup (4 ozs) sliced dried apricots
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or Vermouth
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 to 2 tsps sherry vinegar if needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Trim any excess skin from the sides of the duck breasts. Score the skin with the tip of a sharp knife in a diagonal grid pattern, about 1 inch wide, being careful to cut just deep enough to slice the skin but not pierce the flesh.
- Put all the rub ingredients into a spice grinder (rotary coffee mill) and spin until very finely ground. Rub both sides of the duck breasts with the spices, spreading it on as evenly as you can and working some into the score marks on the skin side. If you are not ready to cook the duck, wrap it and store it in the refrigerator for up to a day, which will actually improve the flavor.
- Swirl the olive oil in a large skillet placed over medium-low heat. Place the duck breasts skin side down in the pan and cook them gently, shaking the pan occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary. Most of the cooking takes place on the skin side; you want to go about it slowly enough that the skin has a chance to render out as much fat as possible before it, and the spices, get too dark. In about 15 minutes a considerable amount of fat should fill the skillet, some red juices should collect on the surface of the duck, and the duck skin should be a deep bronze color. If it’s not, turn up the heat to medium and cook further. When the skin is well browned, turn the breasts and cook the other side for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they feel springy and an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center registers 135–F to 140–F (for medium). Lift them out onto a warm plate and allow them to rest while you prepare the sauce in the same skillet.
- Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the duck fat. Stir in the onion over medium heat until it softens and picks up a rich brown color from the pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the apricots, wine and broth and simmer the sauce until it reduces to about half its original volume and thickens lightly, about 5 minutes. Taste it and add the vinegar (depending on the tartness of the apricots), pepper, and salt if you think it needs it.
- Put the duck breasts skin-side down on a cutting board and slice them into a 1/2 inch-thick pieces (it’s easier to make neat slices if the skin is on the bottom). Flip them skin side up and fan the slices on warmed plates. Spoon the sauce over the top and serve right away.