Moroccan Spiced Duck Breast with Apricots

Makes 4 main course servings

For the spice blend:

  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt

For the duck breast:

  • 4 boneless Muscovy duck breasts with skin, 10 to 12 ounces each
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth at room temperature
  • 1 cup dried apricots (about 6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 200° F.

Combine all of the seasonings for the spice blend.

Remove the tenderloins from the duck breasts. Set aside. With a sharp utility knife trim any sinew and excess fat from the underside of each breast that hangs over the edges. On the skin side, carefully trim enough fat to leave a thickness of about 1/4 inch. With the tip of the knife, score the fat in a diagonal criss-cross pattern at 1/2-inch intervals across the entire surface being careful not to cut into the meat.

Using the entire amount of spice blend, season the duck breasts on both sides. Lightly press the seasoning into the meat.

In a fry pan large enough to hold the duck breasts, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Swirl it in the pan to coat the whole surface. Just before it begins to smoke, add the duck breasts skin side down. As they begin to sizzle, adjust the heat to medium low. Cook until most of the fat has rendered and the skin is dark brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over and continue to cook in the rendered fat, 3 to 4 minutes for medium rare.

Transfer the duck breasts to a baking dish and place in the oven. Carefully pour the fat out of the pan. With a folded paper towel gently wipe out any residual oil. Return the pan to the heat. Add the orange juice and adjust heat to medium high. Reduce until it is thickened and about a quarter of its volume, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, apricots, and tenderloins. Continue to simmer and reduce until there is about 1/3 cup of liquid in the pan, 10 to 12 minutes. Roll the apricots in the stock from time to time. Remove the tenderloins. Transfer the duck breasts to a cutting board. Pour any residual juices from the baking dish into the sauce.

Slice the duck breasts at a slight angle into five or six pieces and arrange skin side up on warmed serving dishes. Spoon the apricots and the sauce over each.

Copyright © 2009 by Chef David Shalleck, founder of VOLOCHEF® Culinary Solutions and author of Mediterranean Summer.