Duck Breast with Spiced Grape Reduction & Roasted Spaghetti Squash

New years are for trying new things. While I love eating duck, I realized I don’t cook it very often. It might be because it’s always so difficult to find in local stores, or that it just seems like a special occasion kind of meal. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to add it into my regular cooking routine, because no chicken breast for a weeknight dinner can ever compare to the crispy skin, melt-in-your-mouth meat, and leftover fat drippings that is duck.

Duck 1

Duck 4

Duck breasts are just as easy to prepare as any piece of meat you can find. The trick is to render the fat LOW and SLOW. The fat will melt away and leave a beautifully crispy skin. And the best part? You’re left with all of the duck fat to save for another use. Pour it into a glass container and store it in the fridge. Then let your imagination go wild with all of the dishes you can make ten times better by using a little duck fat.

Duck 2

Duck 6

My favorite way to eat duck is with some sort of fruit-based sauce. Cherries are great, even raspberries, but this time I’m using grapes. I make a simple red wine reduction spiced up with cloves and black peppercorns. The grapes are simmered in the sauce until they start to burst. I let the sauce thicken on its own a little bit longer before adding the grapes back in along with a touch of butter to make the reduction extra glossy. With such a full-flavored sauce, I wanted to keep the rest of the dish clean and simple. Roasted spaghetti squash is the perfect accompaniment for the duck. It’s seasoned simply and acts as a base for the duck so that all of the grape goodness can be spooned over the top and seep into every bite of duck and squash.

Duck 5

Duck 3

Duck Breast with Spiced Grape Reduction & Roasted Spaghetti Squash
thyme + cloves + peppercorn

Yield: 4 servings

Spaghetti squash:
2 lbs spaghetti squash (about 2 small squash)
Olive oil, to drizzle
Salt and pepper

Spiced grape reduction:
1 lb seedless red grapes
2 cups red wine
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
10 cloves
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

Duck breast:
4 duck breasts
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper

Spaghetti squash:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle each half with olive oil to coat. Season the squash with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast the squash flesh side up on a baking sheet for about 1 hour, or until tender and slightly browned. Use a fork to gently scrape the squash out of the skins.

Spiced grape reduction:
Combine the wine, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, cloves, peppercorns, and sprigs of thyme in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the grapes and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the grapes until they soften and just begin to burst, about 8 minutes. Strain the mixture. Transfer the liquid back to the pan and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the wine and vinegar have reduced and thickened. Turn off the heat. Stir in the butter and add the grapes back into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Duck breast:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pat the duck breasts with a paper towel to ensure they are completely dry. Season each side with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, place the duck breasts in the pan skin side down. Cook for 8 minutes. Turn the breasts over and immediately transfer the pan to the oven for about another 8 minutes. Let the duck cool before slicing it.

To serve:
Serve the sliced duck breast on a bed of the roasted spaghetti squash. Spoon the spiced grape reduction over the top.

Printable version of Duck Breast with Spiced Grape Reduction & Roasted Spaghetti Squash

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