A Fall Feast
By Emily Baran
The summer has come to an end and we are left with the remaining garden crop and the early fall produce. Duck is a fabulous fall dish and an excellent accompaniment to those remaining greens. Loaded with protein, it has a wonderfully delicate flavor which pairs well with many different flavors.
Two dishes that work well featuring duck are pan-seared duck breast (keeping the fat on the breast to assist in the searing of the breast) with a sauté of Swiss chard, zucchini and onions served with quinoa; seared duck breast on top of a green salad with some fresh vegetables and a light balsamic vinaigrette; and duck breast grilled with mixed rice with black beans, jalapenos and onions.
Let us focus on the pan-seared duck breast with a sauté of Swiss chard, zucchini and onions mixed with quinoa. To start, even though duck is considered poultry, duck breasts are traditionally eaten pink through the center. The flavor and juiciness of the duck will stick around and enhance the eating experience.
2 green zucchini
2 bunches rainbow Swiss chard
2 Tbs. olive oil (use more if pan begins to dry)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
For the vegetable sauté, start by rinsing the zucchinis and Swiss chard. Dry both vegetables. Slice the zucchini in one-fourth-inch rounds and set aside. Remove the stems from the green leafy ends of the Swiss chard and cut into one-inch pieces. Slice the green leaves into slices or one-inch squares. Set the chopped leaves and stems aside. Remove the outer membrane of the onions, cut them in half and slice in one-eighth-inch slices. Heat a sauté pan with some olive oil over moderate-to-high heat. Once there is a sheen over the oil, add the onions and season with salt and pepper. When the onions are about half-cooked (approximately five to seven minutes) add the stems of the Swiss chard. Season again. When the stems are tender, add the zucchini and finish with the leafy greens from the Swiss chard. Taste it and decide if the flavors pop out or if they need additional seasoning.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 Tbs. olive oil
Pinch of salt
Combine water, quinoa, olive oil and salt into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stir once, cover and turn heat down to a simmer. The quinoa is ready when the spiral germ is visible – a little piece of the quinoa that breaks away from the morsel.
4 duck breasts
1 Tbs. olive oil (safflower oil works as a nice substitute)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the oil in a pan and heat on medium. Leave the skin/fat on the breast and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down into pan and start the sear. Once the skin side has a golden brown sear (approximately seven to nine minutes) flip to the meat side. After 3 minutes, transfer the duck breasts to a lightly greased baking sheet and place in oven until breasts have reached desired cooking temperature (medium will take about six minutes in the oven, medium well will take approximately eight to nine minutes and well will take about 10 to 12 minutes). Remove and allow breasts to rest before slicing perpendicularly.
(Some adventurous “foodies” prefer to consume meat that is closer to well done than alive, which would not be my choice. Keeping that in mind, I thought it was my culinary responsibility to provide time ranges for the desired cooking temperatures.)
To pull together this delicious meal, place the quinoa on the plate. Drape the sautéed vegetables on one side and lay out the slices of duck breast on the other side of the quinoa. The quantities of the components of the meal are directed to serve four people a satisfying meal.
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