Bloody ducky, you're the one...
Actually, "awfully fond" is a vast understatement. Whether its seared duck breast, confited leg, or fattened foie, duck is one of my stomach's bestest friends. And with the arrival of blood oranges in winter, my wife and I make time to enjoy one of our favourite dishes, duck breast and blood orange risotto.
With the year set to expire, and our desire to partake in a massive New Year's blowout low, my wife and I decided it was the perfect time to see out the old and ring in the new with risotto and Mario Batali's blood orange bellinis (which appear to have been a popular choice).
I originally culled the recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Collection: Risotto cookbook, but I've now made it so many times, that I no longer reference that book at all; instead, I prepare the dish as follows:
Duck Breast and Blood Orange Risotto
1 duck breast (magret de canard)
2 blood oranges, supremed (don't know how to do that or unsure what it means? Click here)
375 grams arborio or other suitable risotto rice
1 cooking onion, diced
1 L chicken stock
200 ml orange juice, if desired
balsamic vinegar, best quality
Preheat chicken stock to a bare simmer.
Preheat oven to 350F and a pan over medium high heat. Trim excess fat from the breast (this can be saved, and used to make confit. But that's another post.), and cut crosshatch pattern into remaining fat on the breast. Place breast fat side down in pan, and caramelize on both sides, approximately three minutes per side. Set aside rendered duck fat, then place in oven, and cook until internal temperature of breast reaches 120F (the low side of medium rare), approximately 3-5 minutes. When done, remove from oven and cover breast with foil.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, heat rendered duck fat, add onions, and cook until translucent. Add the rice, and cook until white dots appear in the centre of each grain.
If using orange juice, add it at this point, stirring. When it is reduced, add just enough hot chicken stock to cover the rice, and stir very frequently. The liquid should barely simmer throughout this process. Repeat this step until the rice is al dente, approximately eighteen to twenty minutes. If the stock runs out before the rice is cooked, substitute water.
When the rice is cooked, add parmigiano, salt, and pepper.
Spoon risotto into bowls, sprinkle additional parmigiano, and top with slices of duck breast and orange segments. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Serves two as a main course, four as an appetizer.
I cannot recommend this dish highly enough. Duck breast is a little gamey and a little sweet, but it still has that unmistakable fatty, salty red meat taste and mouth-feel. The tartness and subtle sweetness of the blood oranges and balsamic vinegar contrast and complement the breast beautifully. Add a little of the world's greatest flavour enhancer, parmigiano, and the dish makes me giddy.
Ooh, and four blood orange bellinis are a wonderful way to start and end this meal, especially if you're sharing it on a special occassion with someone you love. Of course, these bellinis are also a pretty yummy way to sit in your underwear, watch TV, and get drunk by yourself any other time of the year, so don't feel constrained by my suggestion.
Happy New Year!