Saturday, April 23, 2011

Springtime Dinner

Today was spectacular; warm, breezy and sunny. A perfect day for a long run followed by a great meal.

Stumbled upon two beautiful boneless duck breasts in my freezer yesterday and put them in the fridge to thaw over night. I spent most of my run today thinking about how I was going to prepare them. They're really so simple; seared on both sides in a smoking hot cast-iron skillet then finished in the oven, they are a wonderful canvas for any manner of sauce; sweet, savory, Asian, French...your imagination is the only limit when it comes to this versatile meat.

I was in an Asian mood, so I decided on a plum sauce made with fresh plums, plum wine and plum puree (made from canned plums) and shallots. Super simple. I added a few gratings of fresh horseradish right before I served it; it was a surprising flavor, but it worked.

For a side, I wanted a puree of root veggies, but was bored of parsnips and the usual suspects. I'm also bored of sweet potatoes. They are a staple of my diet but they can get a little dull on their own. So I did a combination of carrots and sweet potatoes, pureed in the food processor with a little light coconut milk and seasoned with Chinese five spice powder. I sometimes forget how much I adore this combination of spices and it was really well-suited to the puree. Definitely doing THAT again!

I roasted the asparagus with a little sesame oil and soy sauce. After I seared the duck breasts, I moved them to the oven and drained most of the duck fat from the pan (if I was really decadent, I'd fry tomorrow's breakfast potatoes in the reserved fat) and sauteed some shallots for a few minutes, then deglazed the pan with an ample amount of plum wine and the remaining syrup from the canned plums. I let this reduce and added just a touch of soy at the end. It was a nice drizzle over the duck.

Asian flavors can be challenging pairings for wine, but I've found that I love the Alsacian whites with this type of meal. The slightly sweeter flavors with just the right acidity make them a great balance for the sweet and salty Asian seasonings. One of my favorites is Alsace One by Pierre Sparr. It's a blend of Riesling, Gewurstraminer, pinot blanc, pinot gris and muscat. It was perfect!

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