Sunday, December 23, 2012

This Is Probably The Last Thing I Cook Before Christmas

I'm getting fat again.  It's inevitable because I keep eating out as my last post showed. Everyone has a lunch or dinner they want me to attend.  It may not be good for my figure, but it's nice to feel so wanted.

I do have to cook some time.  In the midst of the holiday whirl I not only decided to cook a meal, but I even came up with a new recipe.

I don't always cook holiday meals, but I always seem to make up for it by trying to make creative pre-holiday meals.  Before Christmas and Thanksgiving I have managed to come up with such dishes as quails in cranberry sauce and pheasant in red wine.   

It was one of those times that a mere suggestion set the gears turning in my head.  I read a line in a novel about a dinner that served brandied cherries and soon I knew I had to make brandied cherries myself.

I decided to mix things up a bit by using cherry brandy.  Ever drink this stuff?  It's pretty foul, but a nip of it is good in cherry pie or melted with the Gruyere in fondue.  I thought it would work well with cherries.

I simmered the cherries and brandy with a cinnamon stick, orange juice, orange zest, and some cloves.  Since the sauce was rather thin, I threw in a little potato starch.  This is optional.  You can leave your cherries as is or throw in some corn starch or potato starch just to give your sauce some body.  I'm hoping that this isn't too much like the cherry sauce I used on my hazelnut crusted chicken breasts.

I served mine alongside some spinach and sauteed mushrooms.  It made for a very colorful, Christmas-like meal.  Considering that I'm doing Greek on Christmas Eve and brunch for Christmas, I'm glad I managed to make something that looks a bit traditional.

Duck Breasts with Brandied Cherries

  • 2-4 duck breasts
  • Salt and pepper for sprinkling
  • 1 bag frozen pitted cherries
  • 1 cup kirsch
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Corn starch or potato starch (optional)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small saucepan combine cherries, kirsch, juice, zest, cinnamon stick, and cloves.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer.  Whisk in starch if using.  Simmer for 30 minutes or more.

Cut a few slashes in the skin of the duck breasts, cutting all the way through the fat, but not into the meat.  Sprinkle them on both sides with salt and pepper.  In on oven-proof skillet over low heat, cook the duck breasts slowly, for about 20 minutes, periodically draining off the fat (SAVE IT).  Move the duck breasts into the oven and cook another 15-20 minutes depending on thickness and how rare you like your duck breasts.

For a nice presentation, slice your breasts into medallions on the bias and serve topped with cherries.


bellini said...

The holiday season is about spending time with family and friends so enjoy!!!! As for the brandied cherries with the duck it reminds me of traditional pioneer dinners.

Sue said...

I like your non-traditional choices of meals around Christmas. Friends and family are the most important ingredient; the menu should be what you enjoy! I'm actually thinking of tacos on Christmas Eve. Feliz Navidad!

What a great sauce for the duck! I would serve this with my favorite forbidden rice...

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Val - Interesting take on the duck dish. I think I was inspired by a Victorian-era novel.

Sue - My parents made the Christmas choices. I personally love the idea of tacos on Christmas Eve!