This is my new favorite recipe. Seriously. I could eat this for supper 7 days a week and not get tired of it. At least not for a long time anyway.
It’s surprisingly easy and fast, and that crust of crispy duck fat is truly one of life’s culinary pleasures. Served atop fresh green beans with balsamic jus, this dish provides luxurious, savory perfection at just 225 calories per serving. Bonus – after the duck fat renders in the pan, it can be poured off and used to add flavor to other dishes, like roasted potatoes or caramelized vegetables.
Duck and green beans are a fleeting paring. Duck season starts in October, just as the last of the season’s green beans are coming in. If you’re not a hunter, duck is slowly becoming more available through local farms like the Ferguson family farm in Parkville. If you can’t source it locally, Whole Foods carries a high quality organic duck breast.
Our local Whole Foods opened in Columbia, MD in August, and I’m really enjoying the store. They source a lot of produce from local or regional farms, and I really appreciate that all of their produce is clearly labeled so I can tell exactly where it comes from. I’m still sourcing most of my food from a community supported agriculture program and farmer’s markets, but I’m finding myself at Whole Foods more and often to fill in the gaps in my grocery list. I also like the wide variety of organic meats and the labels on seafood to help me make sustainable choices.
About the photographs
The bright color of the medium rare duck breast and blanched green beans called for props with muted colors. I’m obsessed with the grey graniteware trays and bowls in today’s photographs. I picked them up at an antique store in Lancaster, PA for about $1 a piece, a bargain because they’re not in perfect shape. I love the subtle, speckled mix of colors and I love that every time I see them I think of my husband’s Grandma Hall, whose kitchen collection is a wonder. I could spend hours examining her enameled graniteware, indigo blue bottles and old cooking utensils.
The background in these photographs is some old barn wood boards my neighbor, Matt nailed together for me. I like the juxtaposition of a sophisticated dish like seared duck breast with the rustic plates and background.
I took these photos with my trusty old Nikon D80, using a 28mm f2.8 NIKKOR wide angle lens. Because we’re already dealing with low light in the early evenings, I used a Lowell Ego tabletop light like this one, positioned on the right side of the food, slightly to rear of the food. My ISO was set at 640, the shutter speed was 250, and the aperture was set at 2.8.
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb duck breasts (2 whole breasts)
- 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine (use ¼ cup chicken stock instead for paleo option)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the green beans in the boiling water for two minutes, drain in a colander and plunge them in ice water to stop them from cooking any further. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture onto the duck breasts and let them sit at room temperature for half an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the duck breast, skin side down, for 5 minutes; turn and sear for 5 minutes on the other side. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 5 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the duck breasts to a plate and keep warm.
- Pour off the fat from the pan. Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the wine or chicken stock, and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook to reduce the wine by half.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and the trimmed green beans and cook for 3 minutes.
- Cut the duck breasts in half lengthwise. Slice the four halves crosswise into thin strips. Serve the sliced duck on top of the green beans and drizzle with any sauce that is left in the pan.