The Province

Don’t duck the chance to try Mardi Gras meal

- SARA MOULTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

With Mardi Gras looming, I thought it might be fun to cook up some New Orleans-styled goodies featuring duck, andouille sausage and creole seasoning. These rich ingredient­s are typical of the fare from this town that knows how to party — an instinct that goes into overdrive during Mardi Gras.

And in this recipe, I’ve figured out a couple ways for us to have our cake and eat it, too. It delivers big flavour without the usual complement of fat and calories.

We start with the star of this show, the breast of duck, a wellknown fount of flavour that — depending on how you cook it — doesn’t have to be terribly heavy. I do recommend that you sauté the breast with the skin on; that’s how to maximize its deliciousn­ess and moistness.

But you can remove and discard the skin — along with most of the serious fat and calories — afterward. In happy fact, duck meat without the skin is leaner than white meat chicken. And duck fat is not bad fat. Yes, some of it is saturated, but a large percentage of it is mono- and poly-unsaturate­d, with the same properties, incredibly enough, as olive oil.

By the way, if duck has always struck you as gamy, you haven’t tried Peking (also known as Long Island) duck breast, the kind employed in this recipe. I serve duck breast once a week at home and the family loves it. It’s so quick and easy to prepare that I put it in the same category as steak. As a matter of fact, duck breasts pair up nicely with any of the sauces you’d use with steak.

Spicy Sautéed Creole Duck Breasts

Start to finish: 1 ½ hours (40 minutes active) Servings: 6

1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil 2 oz (58 g) andouille sausage, finely chopped ½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped yellow onion ½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped green bell pepper 1/3 cup (80 mL) finely chopped celery 1 tbsp (15 mL) plus ½ tsp (2.5 mL) Creole seasoning (purchased or use the recipe below), divided 1 tsp (5 mL) minced garlic 1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium chicken broth 1 cup (250 mL) chopped or crushed canned tomatoes (preferably fire roasted) 2 whole Peking duck breasts (4 halves, about 2 to 2 ½ lbs, or 907 to 1.13 kg)

In a medium saucepan over medium, heat the oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a bowl, then return the pan to the heat and add the onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook, stirring occasional­ly, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add 1 to 1 ½ tsp (5 to 7.5 mL) of Creole spice mix (or more if you want a very spicy sauce) and the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the chicken broth and tomatoes, then bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until much of the liquid has reduced, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

While the sauce is simmering, using a very sharp knife, lightly score the skin on each duck breast half in a criss-cross pattern, cutting well into but not entirely through the meat. Pat the breasts dry and sprinkle them on both sides with the remaining 2 tsp (10 mL) Creole spice mix, making sure that the mix gets into the cracks of the scored skin. Let stand for 15 minutes.

In a large cold skillet, place the duck breasts, skin side down. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the skin looks very crispy, about 12 minutes. Do not pour off the fat; the liquid fat in the pan helps to render out the fat in the skin.

When the duck skin is crisp, transfer the breasts to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) of fat from the pan. Return the duck to the skillet, skin side up, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the duck to a clean plate, skin side up. Cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pour off any remaining fat in the skillet. Add the sauce and the browned sausage to the skillet and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add any juices that have collected on the plate the duck breasts are on.

 ?? — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? Sauté duck breasts with the skin on to maximize flavour and moistness.
— THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Sauté duck breasts with the skin on to maximize flavour and moistness.

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