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Pekin Duck
(not Peking Duck)

Image Credits: Getty Images/TomFoldes

Pekin Duck and Peking Duck are wildly different! Peking Duck is the cooking preparation and presentation of a duck dish originated in Peking (Beijing), China, during the Imperial era and is still popular today.

The flightless, white feathered Pekin Duck is an American breed of domestic duck raised for meat and egg production. It was thought to have been brought from China to the US through San Francisco and then on to New York in the late 19th century and sold primarily to immigrants. Now, Pekin duck, most commonly referred to as Long Island Duck, is enjoyed worldwide. Annual production in the US is 31 million.

The Pekin Duck has gained other fame as perhaps the model for Donald Duck and the mascot of a certain insurance company. These white feathered friends have been domesticated and are often kept as pets with a lifespan of 9–12 years.

That being said…if you’d rather eat them than feed them…here are some surprisingly simple recipes!

  • Duck breast, long considered a delicacy in French cuisine, is exceptionally moist and tender if prepared with a few simple rules in mind.
  • Foremost, duck should always be sufficiently cooked to render off its fat, which can be reserved for other delectable uses. This will ensure a crispy skin.
  • Cook between 125 degrees for rare and 130 for medium rare to give you a succulent pink delight. Of course, you can always cook it longer to your taste.
  • Duck pairs well with fruit and citrus…enter the French standby Duck a L’Orange or Gastrique…still a fan favorite!

Duck Breast…2 Ways!

First the duck breast. Plan on one per person with leftovers, of Long Island Duck (less gamy than others and more widely available), boneless with skin on, 8oz each.

♦ Trim off any excess skin.

♦ Create a cross hatch pattern on the skin side by slashing through the skin and fat on the diagonal every ½", creating a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut the meat.

♦  Salt and pepper both sides and let it warm up to room temp…about 30 minutes.

♦ Pat off any moisture and resalt.

♦ Place, skin side down, in a cold skillet with a dash of olive oil to get things started.

♦ Cook on medium heat for 6–10 minutes. The idea is to slowly render off the fat which you will remove from the pan as it accumulates and save for future use.

♦ When skin is crispy, turn over and cook for 2 minutes.

♦ Place in 350° oven and bake for 4 minutes, until interior temperature is 130° for medium rare.

♦ Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice at 90-degree angle across the grain about ¼” thick. Parfait!

Sauce #1…a L’orange

♦ Julienne the rind of 1 orange. Squeeze out the juice and set aside.

♦ Drop julienned pieces into boiling water for 2 minutes…to soften and take the edge off the pith. Drain.

♦ Heat ½ cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat without stirring until it begins to melt.

♦ Swirl the pan to redistribute sugar and evenly caramelize to create a uniform amber color, for about 5 minutes.

♦ Add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, being careful of the steam and splash back, and stir with a wooden spoon for another 5 minutes or until slightly reduced.
♦ Add the orange juice and zest and continue to simmer until foam forms on the top, about 5 minutes longer.

♦ Add 1 T of butter and season with salt and pepper.

♦ Fan out duck slices on a bed of wild rice and haricots verts or sides of your choosing and drizzle with sauce.

Sauce #2…avec Rutabagas and Pear Jus

♦ Using the empty skillet you roasted the duck in, retain 2 T of duck fat and add ½ lb. large chunks of rutabagas with salt and pepper, toss and roast in a 400° oven until browned on the bottom and beginning to get tender…15–20 minutes.

♦ Stir in 4 fresh sage leaves, 1 bay leaf, and 1 smashed garlic clove.

♦ Continue to roast for another 15 minutes or until tender.

♦ Transfer the rutabagas to a platter.

♦ To the pan, over medium high heat, add 2 diced pears, ½ C chicken stock, and 1/4 cup brandy…bring to a boil.

♦ Cook, stirring to loosen browned bits remaining in pan, until pears are soft and juice is slightly thickened, 5–10 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

♦ To plate, fan out slices of duck on top of a mound of turnips and spoon pear sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley. Serve with a frisée salad perhaps!

MELODY TIERNEY is an avid foodie and has enjoyed sharing her passion with friends and family for many years. She and her husband, Phil, were also bed and breakfast owners in Southampton, New York, serving up a signature breakfast every morning.  This and their gracious hospitality earned them Inn of the Month in Travel and Leisure magazine.
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