French-style duck kicks dinner up a notch
|||Get a taste of the real thing|
A menu that includes duck conveys a sense of occasion. Happily for cooks, this doesn't call for advanced skills or hours of your time.
The following recipe is one that a home cook can prepare in under 20 minutes — but that doesn't include reading the recipe carefully first, and doing the requisite shopping for ingredients.
The duck breasts are served with polenta for a Provenücal flavor, rich with Mediterranean nuances. This doesn't mean a caloric overload — duck breast is a good source of lean protein, as low in calories as chicken breast. (And if you can't find duck breasts — they come vacuum-packed in plastic, chilled or frozen, in the specialty foods departments of some grocery stores — just use chicken breasts. Pre-cooked polenta in plastic-wrapped logs is available at some Safeway, Foodland and Star stores.)
Serving suggestion: Serve with green beans or wilted spinach.
DUCK (OR CHICKEN) BREASTS PROVENCAL
Bring large pot of water to boil; heat polenta log (still in packaging), according to package directions while preparing duck and sauce.
With small, sharp knife, remove skin from duck breasts. Season breasts on both sides with herbes de Provence. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add breasts; brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer breasts in one layer to baking dish or another skillet and place in oven; cook about 6 minutes for rare, 8 minutes for medium-rare and 10 minutes for medium, turning breasts once after 4 minutes.
While breasts are in the oven, make pan sauce. Pour off fat the skillet breasts were browned in. Add chicken broth, olives, tomatoes and capers; simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup.
Remove polenta log from water; open package and mound polenta on four plates, dividing it equally. Cut each breast crosswise on a slight angle into 4 or 5 slices about 1/2-inch thick; fan one breast over polenta on each plate and spoon sauce over duck and polenta. Makes 4 servings.