Duck!

This simple-to-make meal belies its flavor complexity, textural mix and “impress factor.” Created by Eric K. Smith, chef instructor at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, these three recipes feature ingredients available locally now and throughout the spring and summer. Chef Eric is known for his flashy technique, imaginative dishes and relaxed teaching style. Here, he incorporates all three to help you prepare Pan-Roasted Duck Breast with Peach and Scotch Bonnet Chutney and Oven-Roasted Red Potatoes. Serves 4; Preparation Time – 1 hour, 10 minutes.
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I always welcome the chance to cook duck. Any chef will tell you it’s the fat that makes it interesting. The flavor is really intense, and it can get very hot without burning. Upscale restaurants deep-fry their French fries in duck fat. For this meal, in fact, we use it to oven-roast red potatoes.

The fat on a live duck is designed to protect it from the cold, so there’s a lot of it. When I prepare duck, I score the fat, even though the breasts come pretty well trimmed from the butcher. It allows heat to permeate through. Duck is one of the few proteins that I start in a cold pan to render the fat slower and more fully.

Thanks to its sweet peach/hot pepper combination, the chutney is a perfect pairing with the duck’s unique, rich flavor.

Shannon Brock, wine coordinator at the New York Wine and Culinary Center, recommends serving a Riesling from Dr. Konstantin Frank or Hermann J. Weimer.
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Peach and Scotch Bonnet Chutney
(to be made one day ahead of time)

4 peaches
1 to 2 Scotch bonnet peppers (they’re small
but they pack a big punch)
1 to 2 tablespoons raspberry wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Remove the pits from the peaches, chop them a few times and place the pieces into a food processor. (If a food processor is unavailable, chop by hand – it will just take a little more time). Remove the seeds from the peppers and dice as finely as possible. Don’t touch anything afterward until your hands are thoroughly washed – the spicy pepper juice stings. Add the peppers to the peaches in the food processor along with the vinegar. Pulse a few times, adding the oil slowly. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate until serving. When presenting, place a small amount of chutney on each cooked duck breast.
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Pan-Roasted Duck Breast

4 to 6 duck breasts
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large shallot, finely minced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, picked leaves
fresh cracked black pepper
kosher salt

Generously season the duck with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, and place in a cold sauté pan fat side down. Choose a pan in which the duck breasts fit into evenly without touching each other. Turn burner to high heat and cook for about 8 minutes, then turn to medium-low and cook for an additional 12 minutes, or until the fat is golden brown and you see the duck starting to cook up the sides. At this point, it’s about 80-percent cooked.

Flip the breasts over, then top with the garlic, shallots and fresh thyme. Strain the fat and reserve for Oven- Roasted Red Potatoes (see next recipe). Place the duck on a plate to cool.
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Oven-Roasted Red Potatoes

1 to 1-1/2 pounds red skin potatoes
3 to 6 cloves of garlic
reserved duck fat
kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, picked leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Quarter the potatoes into wedges and place in a large mixing bowl. Chop or press garlic into the bowl. (If you use a press, add a little more to make up for the flavor that is left in the press. A little extra garlic flavor never hurt anybody.) Add enough of the rendered duck fat to coat the potatoes very well and season generously with the kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and the picked thyme leaves. Toss the potatoes and mix well. Place potatoes in a single layer on a large baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven and place the duck breasts on top of the potatoes. Put the whole dish back into the oven and cook for 5 more minutes. Let the duck breasts rest for 5 minutes then slice thin.


by Chef Eric K. Smith
Chef Eric K. Smith has been honing his culinary skills since 1994. At 2 Vine restaurant in Rochester, he cemented his passion for the culinary arts. While attending The Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, Chef Eric created unique dishes to pair with the extensive wine list as the Chef de Cuisine of Gramercy 24. Chef Eric also worked as lead line cook for Eleven Madison Park, also in Manhattan. He then joined the elite private dining restaurant, the ‘21’ Club, as the wine cellar chef. After graduation, Chef Eric began an externship with the Michelin 3-star-rated Taillevent restaurant in Paris. At the New York Wine & Culinary Center, Chef Eric shares his talents teaching special group classes as well as some of our technique and signature classes. For more information, visit NYWCC.com.