Sicilian Spiced Duck Breast With Preserved Orange Recipe

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We've been waiting a long time to tackle the recipes from Scott Conant's Scarpetta Cookbook. But before we dive head-first into the pasta, let's check out a classic Italian duck recipe. We know there's so much more to Italian cuisine. "As much as I love spaghetti, I do more than just make pasta," he says. Check out our recent interview with Conant for more from one of our favorite celebrity chefs.

Duck is really more like steak than chicken, and so it takes well to bold seasonings like this spice rub. I don't know if you will ever find this exact mix of spices in Sicily, but it tastes like you should.

Fragrant orange helps cut the richness of the meat and that crispy skin. We use the zest and juice in the sauce and serve the duck with some preserved oranges, which also add a tangy saltiness to the plate. The dish's spices and orange flavor are akin to tagines from North Africa, where there are numerous plantings of Carignan, so a full-bodied red would do nicely. Perhaps a blend like Shardana from Santadi, a Sardinian wine with flavors of tar, smoke, spices and black olives.

Reprinted with permission from The Scarpetta Cookbook

Sicilian Spiced Duck Breast With Preserved Orange Recipe
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  • 4 pieces dried orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon broken pieces from a whole cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • 4 boneless
  • 1 orange
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • kosher salt
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • kosher salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 8 slices preserved orange
  1. In a small sauté pan, toast the dried orange zest, fennel seeds, sweet paprika, crushed red pepper, cinnamon and smoked paprika over low heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool briefly, then grind finely in a spice grinder.
  2. With a sharp knife, trim the duck breasts of excess fat and score the skin side of the duck in a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut all the way through to the meat. Turn the breasts over and season the flesh side only of the duck with 1 tablespoon of the spices. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, zest the orange in wide strips, then juice the orange; reserve the zest and the juice. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, season lightly with kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, sweet and browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the crushed red pepper and the orange juice and cook until the juice is reduced by half. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, garlic and orange zest. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
  6. Strain the sauce into a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to a nice saucy consistency. Whisk in 1 tablespoon olive oil and season to taste with kosher salt. (The sauce can be made 2 days ahead; store covered and refrigerated).
  7. Heat a convection oven to 300°F or a conventional oven to 325°F. Reheat the sauce if necessary. Season the duck breasts all over with kosher salt. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  8. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook to slowly render the fat for 5 minutes. As the fat accumulates, remove it from the pan by tilting the pan and scooping some out with a spoon. When the skin is lightly browned, transfer the pan to the oven and cook until medium-rare (125°F on an instant-read thermometer), 8 to 12 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven, flip the breasts over and let rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Toss with the chives and keep warm. Divide the preserved orange slices among serving plates. Slice the duck breasts lengthwise and lay the slices on top. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the sauce over each plate. Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt.
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