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Duck with Murcotts & Beluga Lentils

Mon Mar 30, 2009

Duck with Murcott Tangerines and Beluga Lentils

I’ve been sitting here all afternoon trying to come up with a story you’d want to read, some literary sustenance about today’s recipe. I’ve been inspired by the recent emotional and personal outpouring of my friends and fellow bloggers White on Rice Couple and Foodwoolf, but the honest truth is this: There is no story; the duck was on sale.

I don’t buy duck often, though not because I don’t like it. I find it challenging to cook, a pile of inedible fat and oily meat if prepared improperly, and too expensive to screw up. So with duck on sale at Whole Foods, and the vision of the Murcott tangerines* from Burkart Farms littering my countertops like freckled orange golf balls, I headed home—a cook on a mission.

After a little reading, I was ready to face my duck-cooking fears. It seemed all I’d need to make delicious, crispy duck was a knife to make hashes through the skin (being careful not to pierce the meat), a lot of open windows in case there was smoke as the fat rendered, and patience. Neal can attest that patience is not one of my virtues, but I promised myself I would wait until the skin went from the color of scorched Southern California hillsides to mahogany, and that I wouldn’t worry about overcooking the meat, even if it meant walking into the family room and sitting on my hands for 15 minutes.

Fortunately, Neal didn’t know this little bargain I struck with myself, because I couldn’t wait long enough. My first attempt at the dish I concocted, the duck with a Murcott and balsamic reduction, fresh Murcotts and Beluga lentils proved a tasty combination that failed in the execution.

So I tried again, though this time the duck wasn’t on sale. Maybe it was the extra couple of bucks I had to spend, or that Neal called from work half way through cooking the duck to tell me he was stuck there, poor thing, but I let that duck sit simmer until all of the fat had turned into a decadent crust that hugged the duck breast. I served it with some tender spring asparagus and sat quietly eating it by myself, admiring the texture, and grateful for on sale duck.

*Murcotts are one of my favorite kinds of citrus. Available from January to April, I like them even more than blood oranges, which have long been the front-runner. They are the color of my kitchen, easy to peel, and their flavor is bright and refreshing, sweet and tangy, which makes them perfect for cooking.

Duck with Murcott Tangerines and Beluga Lentils

For the duck
1 lb duck breast (about two full breasts)
Zest from one Murcott
1/3 cup Murcott juice
Murcott segments from 2-3 Murcotts (depending on size), cut in half
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion
salt and pepper

Trim duck breasts of any excess fat at the edges. Pat dry and cut a crosshatch pattern deep into the skin side, being careful to not to pierce the meat. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, then put the duck in skin-side down. Cook until all of the fat is rendered and the skin is very crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove duck from pan and set aside.

Drain off all but 1 tbsp of fat (I recommend running it through a coffee filter and putting aside for future use) Lower heat to medium-low. Add onions and season with salt and pepper, cooking until the onions are soft. Add juice, zest and balsamic and return the duck to the pot skin-side up. The liquid should come about half way up. Cook duck for 5-7 minutes, or until the temperature at its thickest part registers 150.

Remove the duck and let rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, reduce the remaining cooking liquid until it thickens slightly. Slice duck and serve over lentils, sprinkle with fresh Murcott slices and drizzle the top with balsamic reduction.

For the lentils
1 cup Beluga lentils
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, celery and onions, season with salt and cook until soft. Add lentils and enough water to cover them by about 3 inches. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft, but not mushy. Season with salty and pepper.

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6 Responses to “Duck with Murcotts & Beluga Lentils”

  1. Christie @ Fig & Cherry Says:

    Perfect! Great balance of flavours and beautifully cooked 🙂

  2. Phoo-D Says:

    Beautiful dish! I’ve never made duck at home, but this sounds like a great recipe to start with.

  3. Food Woolf Says:

    Love this post…because sometimes the story really is about the food. Regardless if it’s drowning in emotion. Nailed it again, Greeny.

  4. Duck, Murcott & Arugula Salad | SpicySaltySweet Says:

    […] times it yields something as delicious as the original dish. On Tuesday, I posted a recipe for Duck with Murcott Tangerines and Beluga Lentils. Since it’s just Neal and I, a dish like this (which serves four) yields a couple of days of […]

  5. matt wright Says:

    Duck is a fav. of mine – and this looks awesome I have to say! Lovely food

  6. Murcott Olive Oil Ice Cream | SpicySaltySweet Says:

    […] execute the dinner menu that’s slowly evolving in my head. The Murcott, as I mentioned in last week’s post, is a tangerine that deftly walks the line between tangy acidity and […]

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