Chef Kevin McAllister of The Robey in Chicago has a killer pastrami duck breast that will blow your mind. Face it: you don’t make duck often enough, and if we find ourselves in meat ruts more than we’re willing to admit, chances are you’re in the same boat. Pick up a few duck breasts and prepare to create a dish worthy of your extra-discerning guests.
My initial inspiration for this dish stemmed from a desire to create a recipe that was a playful interpretation of corned beef and pastrami — two of my favorite dishes. I decided on duck because of its unique flavor and texture.
Using Magret duck breast from Moulard duck is key to have the right texture. Once I had the duck pastrami down, I found myself back at a corned beef sandwich, thinking about which elements we could use for side dishes. I developed the caraway cabbage slaw, and the additions of pommes puree, pickled mustard seeds and pumpernickel crisps. This dynamic plate perfectly blends the flavors of pastrami and a corned beef sandwich for a flavorful bite unlike anything you’ve tasted before.
- 2 Magret duck breasts, skin on
- 1 quart water
- 6 tablespoons salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons pickling spice
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
- 12 ounces oatmeal stout beer
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 head green cabbage
- 2 tablespoons toasted caraway seeds
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 3 large russet potatoes
- 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 stick butter
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives
- 4 paper thin slices dark rye bread
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- salt to taste
For the duck
Place all ingredients except the duck in a pot and bring to a boil. (Best to do this a day ahead of time.) once up to a boil, turn it off and cool it down. Place the duck in the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours.
For the crust
In a mortar and pestle, crush the spices until coarsely ground.
After the duck has been brined, remove it and rub the spice crust on top. If you have a vacuum-sealer, place the duck breasts in the bags and seal. If not, you can use quart size zip-top bags. Place a breast in each bag and submerge in water to remove the air. Place the sealed backs in to a water bath at 125F controlled by a sous vide machine or on the stove checking temperature regularly with an electronic thermometer.
Cook the breast for 45 minutes in the water bath. Place in an ice bath and let rest 15 minutes.
For the syrup
Place in a sauce pot and reduce until a light syrup.
For the cabbage
Slice the cabbage 1/8 inch thick, whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the cabbage. Toss the mixture and refrigerate for 3 hours.
For the potatoes
Peal and cook the potatoes in water. Once tender remove from the water and add your butter and cream. Whip them in a bowl until smooth. Season them with salt, mustard and chives.
For the crisps
Brush the slices of bread with the butter and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the assembly
In a heavy sauté pan, place the duck breasts skin side down under low heat for 20 minutes, then place the pan in a 350-degree oven for five minutes to warm though. Let the duck rest and start assembling the plates.
Start by placing the whipped potatoes on the bottom. Warm the cabbage lightly in a pot. Remove the cabbage from the pot with a fork, allowing remaining dressing to drain. Place the cabbage on top of the potatoes. Slice the duck breast in thin strips and feather across the cabbage. Drizzle with syrup and break the toast into shards on top of the duck.