2011/11/03

In which my daughter made me feel guilty (FFwD: 20 Minute Honey Glazed Duck Breasts)

When you live in a house with three very opinionated people (four if you count this post author), there are times when you know you are bound to get hung up in the court of "public" opinion. 

Sometimes, you have an idea what's going to get you in trouble.  Other times, it's totally a left field kind of thing.  Way out there. 



I should have known that this was going to be "one of those". 

It started innocently enough.  The Karate Kid mentioned that The Runner Girl was not going to like me cooking duck and she shook her head at me in that adorable way only a teen-aged girl can. 

These types of conversations happen often enough in the house.  I usually ignore them and push ahead - chances are good that whatever objection is out there will eventually fade.


Sometimes.  Not so much. 

I really thought I would be home free - because The Karate Kid is the fussy eater. And she approved.  The Runner Girl will eat almost anything (except for fish & seafood). 

I knew that The Karate Kid had ratted me out when I started hearing "Poor ducky; He was probably getting ready to fly South for the winter" from the other room.  It was kind of like that scene from Julie & Julia where Julie's husband starts chanting "lobster killer, lobster killer".  Except there was no living creature.  And I wasn't scrunching in the corner of the room.  Just sayin' 

The guilt trip went on for quite a while. 


Somehow, we eventually made it through dinner.  And everyone ate.  WHEW.

I am going to be frank here.  This was a dinner that I agonized over. I wish I had the natural flair that some are blessed with - knowing exactly what goes with what.  That's not me.  Totally not me (kind of like that missing artsy-crafty gene). 

Duck is not something that normally appears on the table.  And because this was already a 2nd mortgage kind of dinner, I didn't want to screw things up - I was very nervous about what to pair it with...  Enter The Flavor Bible.  This has become my "go to" guide for figuring out what to do with food items I am not familiar with (and there are many...) (and for new options on the "same old").  People like me need help with these things and it is comforting to know that there is help to be had - based off the recommendations of people who have a clue. 

Fortunately, the pairings for duck included: pear, fennel, squash (see where I am going?) - this meant that next week's spiced squash, fennel & pear soup was a fit.  The list also noted rice & dried apricots - oohhh - jewelled rice - perfect. 

And chestnuts.  I had a jar of chestnut cream that I procured from a trip to Chelsea Market this summer - just waiting for the perfect occasion.  What better occasion than a 2nd mortgage dinner?  Chocolate-chestnut cream cake for dessert (which was killer - future post fodder, I am sure). 

I really don't mean to come off showy or anything - I was just tickled pink with how everything came together.  It all just worked.  Now if only the holidays had the potential to work out just as well...


Dorie's recipe for Twenty Minute Honey Glazed Duck Breasts can be found here.  This was a simply elegant preparation; however, since I don't feel like taking out a 3rd mortgage I don't foresee this as a revolving menu item at Chez Cher...


This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.  Because what's more French than casual duck?  Seriously.

33 comments:

  1. Looks incredible. The ducks missed their flight south for this special occasion and you certainly did it proud!

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  2. Your duck looks beautifully cooked - I did love that part about this recipe (not the sauce so much). The Flavor Bible routinely goes to work with me for lunch-time reading and is probably my most favorite reference cookbook. I have What to Drink With What You Eat, also.

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  3. @Denise - I ended up using a tangerine fig basalmic to make the reduction - which may have impacted my "like" for the sauce... It was just the right amount of sweet to off-set the richness of the duck.

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  4. Looks beautiful! So brown and crispy! I'm glad everything came together for you. I have no idea what to pair duck with, either. You know, if it ever "comes into season" in Texas, and if I ever come into a fortune with which to buy it. I'm afraid we all may take out third mortgages for next week's lamb recipe. Even in season, in the spring, a leg of lamb costs 50 bucks around here. At this rate, we'll all be broke by the holidays. Well fed, but broke. Ha!

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  5. My bad--the following week's lamb recipe, I mean. Don't want to mess anyone up!

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  6. @Ei. No worries. The lamb has me freaked out. No one here will touch it, so I think I am going to have to find a substitute. (Perhaps one that doesn't require a 4th mortgage)

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  7. I agree Cher, second mortgage time. I was going to buy the lamb at the same time and decided since we're not huge lamb fans, I wasn't going to apply for the third mortgage. I bought some great beef instead to make a beef/lamb stew w/out the lamb. Glad the girls came around and dispatched poor ducky! Love your "crispy" photo!!

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  8. LOL! What do you mean by 2nd mortgage? As in you werent going to go buy extra ingredients or something? Either way, its nice that you were freaked out by the duck too! I felt a LOT of trepidation in this weeks recipe! But we both liked it so it all worked out in the end!

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  9. Wow - so well done, Cher, Brava! I love the Flavor Bible - favorite food book, hands down. Oh, and about the lamb ... I made this dish last winter, and it would be absolutely fine to substitute a nice cut of beef for the lamb. Here, lamb is not so expensive (and it's local), but duck is just crazy out of budget.

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  10. Your dish looks amazing! So glad you liked it. I did too, though I was a bit more boring with potatoes on the side (good too). Happy that everyone survived the not-migration!

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  11. I love that you call it 2nd Mortgage kind of dinner. Nail. Head. You.
    :)

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  12. Very nicely done, Cher! I haven't really dropped out of FFWD, I promise! Just an unfortunate streak of being out of town and not liking the recipes - salmon and duck, to be specific. I hope to get back on track soon!

    I love that you turned the whole meal into a challenge & that you were pleased with the results. Sounds like a wonderful autumn meal.

    Have a great weekend, too!

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  13. Your duck looks so golden and crispy and delicious! I own the Flavour Bible but am yet to use it - you have inspired me.

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  14. Wow, what an amazing meal. I may have to check out that Flavor Bible, somehow this is one which hasn't crossed my radar before.

    That's also interesting to hear that the duck was expensive. Where I live it is a fairly common menu item and maybe that's why it is also not very expensive. More expensive than chicken certainly, but not extravagant. And lamb is really cheap here. But any kind of beef, THAT requires a second & third mortgage!

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  15. I suspect that fabulously cooked duck of yours would go very well with seared pineapple and egg noodles too, but that would make it Asian and not French :-). Duck meat is a premium here too, so I decided to just take the whole week off from blogging and enjoy life! I'm not a really big meat eater so some recipes this month are going to kill me....

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  16. I downloaded the Flavor Bible to my Kindle a few months ago but haven't gotten around reading it. Sure sounds like I'm missing out! I hope the digital version was worth it.

    You definitely read all about my lack of duck woes yesterday. I really had my heart set on making duck fat fries.

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  17. Agreed. This is a "rare occasion" recipe for me since my sole duck breast was $5.00!

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  18. Wow...I could not get a duck in time for this Friday :( looking at yours makes me drool alright ! Dorie has such a simple recipe for this duck dish and yet the end result turned out to be such an elegant piece ! I will definitely try this out when I get the duck ! :)

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  19. Thanks for the recommendation for The Flavor Bible. I heard good things about this book but haven't had a chance to check it out yet. Your whole menu came together so beautifully. Look forward to read about the chestnut chocolate cake.

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  20. LOL at the 2nd Mortgage dinner - I sort of felt the same way when I had to buy the whole duck and not just the 2 breast I intended. Your pairings sound phenomenal and now I'm hungry again. Can't wait to hear about the soup for next week. Will post some decorating photos next week too.
    Happy French Friday!

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  21. Despite your agonizing, that sounds like one amazing meal, from soup to nuts. I'm glad everyone liked it in the end.
    The duck breasts here were also $5 each, but I rationalized it as cheaper than takeout since I didn't need any other ingredients.
    Thanks for the heads up on The Flavor Bible. I wasn't familiar with that one. I was going to tell you that often refer to a similar chart in a book called Culinary Artistry. Funny thing is that when I checked out your link to the book, it's by the same author. They must have expanded the chart to entire book. I'll definitely look for that one.
    Have a great weekend!

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  22. I love your first photo especially, Cher - the duck looks just perfect on that plate. I haven't made the duck, yet, but am looking forward to it after seeing everyone's photos.

    I love how well your whole menu worked out. I haven't picked up the Flavor Bible yet, but there's an online chart that I use that has similar (though more limited) information. It's a great way to make up a menu. I also have it on good authority (from my brother, the chef) that professionals do the same thing.

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  23. I learned a ton from this post! First off, I love your serving plate, and your score marks look perfect! Are you going to get a cut off of how many copies of the Flavor Bible you sell? You should probably talk to someone about that!! I will also be checking it out!

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  24. What great sides to pair with your duck...The Flavor Bible sounds like a great resource! And I'm glad to see another rare piece of duck. I paid through the nose for mine, too~

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  25. I am really looking forward to making next week's soup, especially since it has gotten cold here the last few days. It sounds like it was a perfect pairing!

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  26. I will have to look into the Flavor Bible too, I'm sure Tricia and I would
    get a lot of great ideas. Your duck turned out beautiful , especially on
    that serving dish.

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  27. Gorgeous duck and a wonderful sounding meal! So glad everyone enjoyed it! I was so looking forward to this one but we were traveling. I look forward to making it in the future.

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  28. Looks delicious! I'm picking up my duck tomorrow; it was just processed at the farm yesterday. I can't wait to try this dish!

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  29. Cher, this looks amazing! You certainly did this dinner (and the duck) proud! You have a wonderfully spunky way of writing and I found myself smiling through your entire post. Well done you! BTW, I think you have a better sense of flavor combinations then you let on. Nice try :)

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  30. Cher, your duck breasts look amazing. I think I should have seared mine longer but I was afraid of over cooking them. I should try that Flavor Bible. I wasn't sure either but the Endives, Apples and Grapes went well.

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  31. Funny! My husband asked if we should tell our daughter she was eating one of the little duckies that swim around in the pond, but I don't see how it is different than eating a chicken. I'm so happy your meal came together so well - I love when that happens!

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  32. Yeah, I think I have to pay some bills before I make the duck breast, lol! I shall love vicariously ... looks like you cooked yours to the absolutely perfect degree of doneness, yum!

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  33. This is so beautiful! That crispy skin shot makes me want to make this all over again just to eat more of that tasty duck fatty skin!

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