The richness of a perfectly cooked duck breast paired with a medley of vegetables brings the joy of French cooking to your table in no time.
As an alumnus of “L’Atelier des Chefs” Cooking School in Paris, I am sent recipes once a week. I use the term “alumnus” with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek because I took a course at the school for all of one afternoon. If you love to cook, you’ll love this Paris Cooking School. It’s now grown to five locations in Paris alone and schools in Aix, Lille, Lyon, and Toulouse. There’s only one drawback: the classes are completely in French. So brush up on your high school French and carry on. Here’s the link to all that’s on offer: https://www.atelierdeschefs.fr/fr/ateliers-de-cuisine.php. Until I get back to France, I’ll have to just enjoy the weekly reminder of what I am missing. What impresses me is how simple their recipes are and what grand titles they give them. Take this one for example. Can you wait to tell whoever you cook for that you’re making Lacquered Duck? And what on earth will they think a Vegetable Mikado is going to be? Finally, how will they ever believe you can prepare both dishes in under 30 minutes!
I am always on the lookout for something new to cook. Enter Duck Breasts.
If I could, I’d like to invent a whole new protein to supplement the quadrangle of beef, pork, chicken and fish. In any kind of rotation, it would be wonderful to have a couple of other ingredients to go to. Duck is certainly one of them. It’s quite easy to find in New York. But you don’t have to live here to find it. This is all thanks to D’Artagnan (https://www.dartagnan.com). Ariane Daguin, its founder, owner, and CEO was born into a family renowned for great food. Her father, Chef Andre Daguin was famous all over France for his foie gras, a specialty of his home in Gascony. Ariane got her start in the kitchen at age 10. Ariane came to New York to study at Columbia University. Her academic career was upended in 1985 when she and a partner launched D’Artignan, the first purveyor of game and Foie Gras in the U.S.
D’Artagnan started their whole business by growing ducks and they haven’t let up
Even though they now offer everything from Grouse brought over from Scotland to wild boar from Texas, their duck is still a cornerstone of what they sell. And it comes beautifully butchered in legs and thighs for confits and the breasts used in this recipe. And about that Mikado…according to LaRousse, “anything garnished or flavored with ingredients that are reminiscent of Japanese cuisine” can be called a Mikado. What I liked was the whole look of the vegetables on the plate. It was simply a matter of cutting them into very simple shapes. I think you’ll agree the color adds a tremendous amount of appeal to this dish.
I pride myself on my language skills. But when I saw a little bar come across the top of L’Atelier’s recipe asking whether I wanted to read a translation into English, I hit the button. This produced a riot of broken English including the admonishment to “Chop the skin slightly” when it meant “score the skin” and my personal favorite which I am still working out; “We do not currently dirty recipe for soy sauce is already naturally salty: it is better to put a little fleur de sel at the end according to personal tastes.” So be it. Here is the recipe followed by some other wonderful things to make with duck.
Lacquered Duck Breasts with a Vegetable Mikado
This wonderful dish pairs the richness of a perfectly cooked duck breast with a medley of vegetables to bring the joy of French cooking to your table in no time.
- 2 Duck breasts (about 1 lb. each)
- 1 Persian cucumber (rather like Kirby, these are just smaller than ordinary cukes, which I am sure you can use as a substitute)
- 6 Baby Carrots, peeled
- 6 radishes, peeled. (Use either long red radishes or white ones.)
- For the sauce: 1 three-inch stick of cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 Lime and its zest
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Star Anise
- 7 tbsp. Soy Sauce
- 3 ½ tbsp. of Sake (or substitute Mirin)
- 6 Rounds of the Pepper Mill
- Step 1 Peel the carrots, cucumber, and radishes. Cut the cucumber into slices. Cut the radishes in half. In a large skillet with a good glug of olive oil, brown the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes without seasoning of any kind. Divide the vegetables evenly between plates.
- Step 2 Score the fat side of the breast. Put the fat side down into a very hot non-stick skillet. Cook it until it is very crisp, brown and has released a lot of its fat. Turn the breast over, pepper it well, then continue cooking.
- Step 3 In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, sake, sugar, spices, zest, and lime juice. Then, after removing the excess fat from the non-stick skillet, pour the sauce over the browned duck breast. Continue cooking 7 to 8 minutes over medium heat, basting the duck frequently.
- Step 4 Serve the sliced duck breast atop the Vegetable Mikado. Serves 2 but if you are not a big eater, 1 breast could likely feed 2 people.