HONEY GLAZED DUCK BREASTS WITH CHERRY SALSA
by Romney Steele
A lighter, more summery twist on the typical duck, cherries tango with a touch of cinnamon and spice-just right for a shared meal on the terrace with friends. The cherry salsa also pairs well with chicken and pork. Or stir it through couscous and add a drizzle of olive oil for an effortless grain and fruit salad.
Serves 3 or 4 as a starter course
• 2 (10- to 12-ounce) boneless duck breasts, preferably Muscovy
• 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander seed
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup honey
• Pinch cinnamon
• 1/2 pound fresh cherries, halved, pitted, and some of them quartered
• 1/2 red onion or 1 large shallot, finely chopped
• 1/4 cup almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
• Juice of 1 lime
• 1/3 bunch cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped
• Few mint leaves, cut into chiffonade
While they are still cold, score the skin side of the duck breasts - a few slits or crosshatches about 1/2 inch wide, almost down to the meat. Season with the coriander, salt, and pepper. Leave at room temperature, loosely covered, for 30 minutes before cooking.
Gently warm the honey with a pinch of cinnamon. Reserve for basting the duck and adding to the salsa.
Meanwhile, make the salsa. Combine the cherries, onion, almonds, jalapeno to taste (better to add less to start), and about 1 tablespoon honey in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, and then immediately decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook until the fat is rendered (pouring it off into a jar as you go) and the skin turns a deep golden color, about 10 minutes. While cooking, brush the breasts with a little warmed honey. Turn the breasts over and cook to medium-rare (130°F), a few minutes more depending on thickness. Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the breasts on the diagonal, arranging slices on plates or a large platter. Top with the salsa, drizzle with any remaining honey, and serve.