2. Here’s what you’ll need.
1 duck breast
3 or 4 potatoes, preferably a mix of medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes and Russets
1 bunch of carrots
4 sticks of butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup beef or vegetable stock
option: 1 garlic clove, few sprigs of thyme
THE GAME PLAN
1. Start the potatoes.
2. Start the sauce.
3. Get the carrots in the oven.
4. Star the duck breast.
5. Check the potatoes and check the sauce.
6. Finish the potatoes.
7. Check the carrots.
8. Finish the duck breast.
9. Finish the sauce.
3. Start with the potatoes. Peel them first.
Set up a station like this so you can peel each potato and put it in water so it doesn’t brown after you’ve peeled it.
4. Then quarter them. The pieces should all be about the same size.
So even though you’re cutting the Yukon Golds into quarters, you might cut the Russet into more than four pieces so they can be equal in size to the others.
5. Put the potato pieces in a large pot and cover them with cold water by about an inch.
When you boil potatoes, always start with cold water — and don’t salt the water.
6. Bring the water to a boil and let them cook until just tender.
Once the water has started boiling it will take about 5 to 10 minutes for them to get tender — you can test how tender they are by poking them with a fork or knife, and once it goes through without much resistance, drain the potatoes.
7. While the potatoes are boiling, put 1/2 stick of butter and 1/3 cup of milk in a sauce pan and put it on a burner with no heat.
The butter will melt without any heat, and you can just briefly heat it before you put it in the mashed potatoes later.
8. Next, make the red wine sauce. Combine 1/2 cup red wine and 1/2 cup of beef or chicken stock in a saucepan.
9. Bring it to a boil and let it reduce by half.
10. You can check the amount of liquid in the pan more easily by tipping it.
11. As all that’s happening, start the carrots. Preheat the oven to 440ºF. Wash the carrots, then dry them very well.
12. If you didn’t get pretty multicolored carrots, don’t worry. If they aren’t small, you might want to cut them into pieces so they are smaller, but no matter what kind of carrot, they all cook the same way.
13. Drizzle the carrots with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, then put in the oven at 400ºF. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you remember to check them.
They will take 20 to 30 minutes to cook, depending on how large they are. If you like them firmer, take them out when there’s still a little bite.
14. First, “score” the duck breast (one is enough to feed two people) by making shallow crisscross slices on its fatty side.
This allows the fat to render better as you saute it.
15. Be careful not to cut too deeply (don’t go all the way to the skin). It should look like this.
16. Generously season both sides of the duck breast with kosher salt.
17. Put it on a COLD PAN and put the pan on a low flame.
Duck breast is different than many other proteins in that you don’t want to cook it over high heat. You want to cook it slowly over very low heat to render out and then crisp the fat.
18. As the breast cooks, fat will start to come out of the breast onto the pan.
19. About two or three times while the breast is cooking, you’ll need to drain the fat out of the pan.
Hold the duck breast firmly against the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon (the person in this photo is using his hand because he is a professional cook and thinks he is cool/is kind of cool), and drain the grease off into a glass jar or something else that won’t immediately melt when it comes into contact with hot grease.
20. Be patient: It will take about 15 minutes until most of the fat has rendered out and the color is right.
21. In the meantime, check the potatoes; if they are tender, drain them. Turn on the heat under your milk/butter to very low.
22. Put the potatoes back in the pot and mash them with a potato masher or the back of a fork.
23. Add the milk and butter.
24. Keep mashing.
25. Once you like the way the potatoes taste (yes, taste them!), dot the top with butter.
26. Put some plastic wrap on top, then put the potatoes on the oven to keep them warm.
27. What’s going on with your carrots, are they done?!
28. And what’s going on with your duck? You should check the color only after it’s been on the pan for at least 10 minutes. Keep draining. Don’t raise the heat past medium. This is close, but not quite there.
29. This is the perfect color. Once it looks like this, flip it and less it cook on the other side for a minute or two.
30. Take the breast out of the pan and turn up the heat to medium-high and put two big hunks of butter in the pan (about 1/3 of a stick).
31. Add two gloves of garlic if you have that (they don’t have to be peeled — doesn’t matter).
32. Throw in some thyme, then add the duck breast and tip the pan so that the breast is bathing in the butter with the garlic and thyme.
33. Spoon some of the butter over the breast.
34. Let it stay in the butter for about 2 to 3 minutes over the high heat.
35. After cooking it, the duck should rest for about 5 minutes before you slice it. It’s done when the internal temperature is 135ºF. To slice it, put the breast fat-side down.
36. Go back to your reduction, whisk 2 Tbsp of butter into it, heat gently (don’t boil), and add salt until you like the flavor.
38. Plate everything and eat.
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