So you like to call yourself a deep-end diner. Because there was that night, six years ago in Shinjuku, when you boldly shovelled down some 10,000-yen fugu, the deadly globefish, and you lived to tell about it. Then, of course, there was Christmas brunch three Decembers ago in Oslo when, on a half-drunken dare from your distant cousin Katrine, you swallowed a plateful of putrid lutefisk, lye-soaked cod, and you did it with a smile. And, in perhaps the most startling exhibit of your epicurean triumphs, there was last summer in Phoenix, when you took McDonald's 99-cent Big Mac promotion to heart and you ordered - and finished - five greasy Big Macs in one sitting, somehow managing to keep myocardial infarction at bay.
Live dangerously. Defy the H5N1 virus and the avian flu by trying my Deep-End Duck with Chianti, Sun-Dried Tomato and Crimini Mushroom Sauce. To really impress that special someone with a complete, exquisite meal, serve with equally dangerous sides of Palestinian couscous (suicide bombers), baby carrots (post-Easter, deranged rabbits), and asparagus spears (pointy, might take an eye out). Bon appétit!
But let me tell you something: I'm really not all that impressed by any of that. Because, in my opinion, you haven't done anything until you've directly defied the H5N1 virus and the avian flu by trying my dangerous Deep-End Duck with Chianti, Sun-Dried Tomato and Crimini Mushroom Sauce. Yes, folks, it's time for another original recipe from the dingobear kitchen. What you'll find is a rich, flavourful entrée divinely accented with the bursting revelation that is sun-dried tomatoes, which is altogether perfect for a delicious dinner that dares to be a little different. Try it; you won't regret it.
Although long-time readers of this website know that turkey is generally the poultry of choice around here, sometimes it doesn't hurt to diversify a bit. So how about a little duck? "Quack, quack," I say. But remember, there is an important rule when preparing duck: ensure that you make enough for two. Why? Because according to the Chinese, ducks are considered a universal symbol for love since they are always seen swimming in pairs. Therefore, if you only cook enough for one, you'll be making a widow of some poor duck. And if you do that, you're a heartless, widow-making ass, which really isn't very becoming. Here at felix's daily starfish and waffles, we encourage our readers not to be heartless, widow-making asses. So if you're going to eat one duck, make sure you eat his or her mate, too! That way, they can continue to be together, in love, in animal heaven.
Deep-End Duck with Chianti, Sun-Dried Tomato and Crimini Mushroom Sauce
2 boneless, duck breasts with the skin
75mL sodium-reduced chicken broth
75mL Tuscan Chianti
25mL freshly-squeezed lemon juice
10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
7-8 sun-dried tomatoes soaked in olive oil, reserving 1-2 tablespoons of oil
1 teaspoon (or so) salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4-5 fresh sage leaves
Start by making the sauce. In a separate bowl, combine the Chianti, chicken broth, lemon juice, and thyme. Lightly stir. Set aside. See how easy that was?
Next, take the duck breasts and pound them to take out the extra moisture and flatten them somewhat. (Pounding also good for venting frustration). Sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil you've reserved in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (but not quite smoking), place the duck breasts in the pan, skin-side down, using a pair of tongs. You'll know that the pan is hot enough if you hear a sizzling sound. Sear for about 3 minutes then flip 'em over. The side you just cooked should have a nice, brown crust. Throw in the crimini mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Sear the duck breasts for another 3 minutes. Using a wooden spatula, frequently toss your mushrooms and tomatoes so they don't burn.
Remove the duck breasts from the heat and temporarily set aside on a plate. Pour the Chianti sauce you've prepared into the pan. You should hear an enormous sizzle! With your wooden spatula, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of your pan - it is these brown bits that'll give your dish spectacular flavour. Return the duck breasts to the pan. Season with basil, sage leaves and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the duck is properly cooked through. By this time, the Chianti sauce should have thickened quite nicely.
Using your tongs, transfer the duck to a platter. Pour the sauce over the duck. I recommend serving the dish with a side of couscous and steamed asparagus spears and baby carrots. Eat and enjoy!