If the mountains of snow aren’t so high and you feel like doing a little grillin’ for your sweetheart, give this duck grilled and brushed with a spiced blood orange and honey glaze a try! The duck is first rubbed and cured with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and just a bit of Chinese five spice powder. Serve it up with (premixed) French mesclun salad greens drizzled with a creamy blood orange dressing and garnished with candied kumquats and toasted pine nuts.
(Bonus recipe at the end of the post!)
Duck breasts are a tricky thing to grill because of all that delicious fat that is under the skin. It can be done directly on the grill, but do you want to clean up all that grease? Plus, duck fat is delicious and if you fried up some potatoes in to, you wouldn’t be sorry. To avoid the mess and keep the fat, I started the duck breasts in a cold cast iron skillet right on the grill. Once the fat was rendered from the breasts, I moved them on to the grill to finish cooking… genius!
Blood Orange & Honey Glazed Duck Breast
For the duck:
Two 6- to 8-ounce duck breasts
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (can substitute ground ginger)
For the glaze:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 strips blood orange peel, removed with a vegetable peeler
2 whole star anise
2 slices fresh ginger root
Slices of blood orange
Mesclun Salad with Pine Nuts and Candied Kumquats (below)
Cast iron skillet (optional)
Squirt bottle of water for flare-ups
Trim any excess fat and skin to the same size as the breasts. The best way to do this is place the breasts skin-side down and trim around. Score skin in 1/4 inch intervals with a sharp knife; do not cut into breast meat. Rotate breast and score again, making a crisscross pattern. It’s easiest to do this when the duck is cold. Combine the salt, pepper, and five spice. First season the meat side and then flip and season the skin-side making sure to get the seasoning in the score marks. Use all of the seasoning. Transfer the breasts skin-side up on a plate lined with parchment and let cure in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
For the glaze: Stir together the honey, juice, and vinegar in a small saucepan until the honey has dissolved into the mixture. Add the strips of orange peel, star anise, and ginger coins and then bring to a very low simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use or store in an airtight container if making in advance.
Set up grill for direct grilling over low to medium-low heat. As always, brush and oil the grates before cooking. Remove the duck breast from the fridge and place skin-side down in the cold skillet. Place skillet directly on the grill over the fire for approximately 8-12 minutes or until fat is rendered and skin is crisp and golden brown. Every couple minutes, rotate the pan to account for hot/cool spots. Remove the breasts from the skillet and place meat side down; set skillet aside. Grill for 5 minutes generously brushing with glaze. Keep an eye out for flare-ups. Flip and brush with glaze. Cooking for another 2-3 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 135F for medium. Remove from the grill, brush one more time with the glaze and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve alongside mesclun salad greens drizzled with Creamy Blood Orange dressing (below) garnished with candied kumquats (below) and toasted pine nuts.
Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Creamy Blood Orange Dressing
makes 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
2 tablespoon best quality mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pinch salt
Stir all ingredients until combines. Will keep covered in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Candied Kumquats for Salad
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
Remove the ends from the kumquats and slice each into 3 slices; set aside. Add sugar and water to a small skillet over medium heat. Let sugar dissolve without stirring and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes. Add the kumquat slices and cook for 2 minutes. Use a fork to flip the slices and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer slices with a fork to a piece of parchment or wax paper to cool.
BONUS: Reserve the syrup from the candied kumquats! Add 1 teaspoon of the cooled kumquat syrup to champagne flute with a couple slices of fresh kumquat and top with champagne for nice treat before during and after grilling… Cheers!