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Spice-Crusted Duck Breast with Fennel Couscous

Spice-Crusted Duck Breast with Fennel Couscous

Chef and hotelier Charlie Palmer is making a delicious duck dish with white turnips that serves six.
Ingredients for Spice-Crusted Duck Breast
  • Toasted Pine Nut Couscous
  • Campari & Orange-Glazed Fennel
  • White Turnips
Ingredients for Duck Breast
  • 6 Moulard duck breasts
  • ¼ c coriander seed
  • ¼ c fennel seed
  • 2 T cumin seed
  • 2 T whole white peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • All-purpose flour (for dusting)
  • 3 t vegetable oil
Ingredients Toasted Pine Nut Couscous
  • 1 c pine nuts
  • 3 c instant couscous
  • 3 c chicken stock
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T chopped fresh tarragon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
Ingredients for Campari and Orange-Glazed Fennel
  • For Fennel:
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 heads fennel, cut lengthwise into sixths
  • Zest and juice of 3 oranges
  • 1 ½ c chicken stock
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • For Sauce:
  • ½ c Campari
  • ½ c honey
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 3 T Orange Juice
Ingredients for White Turnips
  • 1/2 lb baby white turnips, halved
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T chopped chives
  • 1 C water, salted


Directions for Duck Breast

1. Trim most of the fat from the duck breasts: Moulard ducks are particularly fatty, so you’ll want to cut off about half of the fat. Score the remaining fat (but not through to the meat) in a crisscross pattern.

2. Grind the coriander, fennel, cumin, peppercorns, and cloves together in a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a plate and press the duck breasts fat-side down into the spices.

3. Place the duck breasts in a large nonstick sauté pan. Slowly render them over medium heat, basting them occasionally with the rendered fat. Cook the breasts to 130°F (use an instant-read thermometer) for medium.

4. Allow the duck to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing.

Directions for Couscous

1. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry frying pan over medium heat, tossing constantly, until golden. (If you don’t keep them moving they’ll end up looking like black-eyed peas.) The instant they’re done, transfer them onto a plate to cool.

2. Put the couscous in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand for 15 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and mix in the pine nuts, tarragon, and lemon zest. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Directions for Fennel

1. Melt the butter in a large straight-sided sauté pan, swirling the pan until the butter is lightly browned. Sear both cut sides of the fennel. Add the orange zest and juice, the chicken stock, and the shallot, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer slowly, flipping the fennel wedges occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fennel is tender (but not mushy) and the liquid has reduced to a nice glaze.

2. Combine the Campari, honey, orange juice, and butter in a sauté pan and bring to a boil; cook until reduced by half. Drizzle over top of the duck once sliced.

Directions for White Turnips

Bring turnips to a boil in salted water and cook until tender. Strain and move to a medium sized bowl and toss in with a tablespoon of butter and garnish with chopped chives.

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