Duck Breast with Maple Carrots & Cranberry Vinaigrette
Updated: Jan 29
The Test Kitchen is lucky to have some partners in high places, and this is definitely the case when it comes to our friends over at Joe Jurgielewicz & Son Duck Farm. We have crossed paths at multiple tasting events over the years, and they love our knives like we love their game! Might as well take a swing at cooking together, right?
For those that have never had the pleasure of trying a beautiful slice of seared duck breast, imagine the meatiness of a medium-rare piece of steak with the tenderness of perfectly juicy cooked chicken wrapped with lusciously crispy skin. It takes a little care and a little love, but duck breast is super rewarding when you prepare it right! Duck is different than chicken and other birds because it can be cooked rare/medium and it won’t make you sick.
This duck isn’t just meat, but part of a larger story of American entrepreneurship. Four generations of Jurgielewicz family duck farming began in 1933 when Dr. Joe’s grandparents, Bronislaw and Katarzyna Jurgielewicz, emigrated to America from Poland via Ellis Island. The ambitious couple initially settled in Brooklyn, NY but, driven by their entrepreneurial spirit, soon moved east to rural Long Island.
Using their savings, they bought some farmland in Moriches, built a shed, and purchased some Pekin ducks. They quickly became a top producer of Pekin ducks for the Long Island Duck Co-op. After issues with land management and soul searching, they relocated in the 1980s, the start of a new duck business on 500 acres of farmland and woodland between Shartlesville and Hamburg, Pennsylvania.
The new company, Joe Jurgielewicz & Son, Ltd., was now formally established. The family business is booming, and now the fourth generation is working the farm and finding their way of raising delicious duck. Read more about their story here!
Now the ball is in our court, how do we respect the high quality of this product without making a dish? A sous-vide, or immersion circulator, has been a long-standing winner when it comes to perfectly cooked medium-rare duck. It is as simple as scoring the skin so that it renders out properly, seasoning the duck breast, picking a few pairing aromatics, and bagging it up before circulating. The sous vide circulates and heats water to a specific temperature, 130F degrees, in this case, making consistently perfect medium-rare duck breast.
All that needs to be done after the circulating process is to get a beautiful sear on the skin-side! A cast-iron skillet is great at capturing heat and getting crispy, well-browned skin all the way. Always make sure it has at least 5 minutes of time to rest before slicing on a bias into ¾-inch thick slices.
If you do not have a sous vide you can DIY this technique with a large saucepot, zip-close kitchen bags, some binder clips (seriously!), and an accurate thermometer. Set it over low heat and stir occasionally, adjusting the temperature as necessary. Another technique is to preheat an oven to 225F degrees, and cook duck breasts until an internal temperature of 130F degrees, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the duck breast from the oven and sear it like you would out of a sous vide!
The side of maple carrots makes a natural complement to the rich savoriness of the duck breast. The sweet earthiness of the carrots is enhanced by the aromatic maple syrup, made richer with some unsalted butter, and given depth and personality with some chili flakes. This side is great with any kind of carrot, but we had some beautiful multicolored carrots on hand so that’s what we ran with!
The other main element of this dish was a cranberry vinaigrette, an acidic, fruity, and slightly bitter sauce to bring everything together. The fresh cranberries (frozen are ok as a substitute) are cooked down with red wine vinegar, water, and some sugar until they start to burst. Then, other aromatic ingredients such as garlic, dijon mustard, and extra virgin olive oil are added and blended together into a thick and beautiful magenta sauce.
This cranberry vinaigrette is important to temper the sweet and savory flavors from the maple carrots and duck breast, respectively. Then to balance out the flavors and colors just a little more, crushed pistachios bring their light aroma and a slight crunch to the party. These bright green morsels sprinkled over the sliced duck help everything come together into a well-composed dish.
We’re closing in on the holiday season and we are happy that we got the chance to share such a beautiful recipe with an honest story. We hope you find inspiration in our recipe and try it using your favorite knife!
Duck Breast with Maple Carrots & Cranberry Vinaigrette
Duck breast is a tender, rich, and luxurious bite, made even better with a sous vide! Paired with a sharp cranberry vinaigrette and sweet maple carrots, this is a meal well worth the effort. Thanks to Joe Jurgielewicz & Sons (@tastyduck) for the beautiful duck!
Recipe by Sam Burgess
Forge To Table Knives
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 70 minutes
4 each boneless Joe Jurgielewicz & Son duck breasts (~2 pounds)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 each garlic cloves, crushed
2 each thyme sprigs
2 pounds medium carrots, tops trimmed, scrubbed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Flaky sea salt, to taste (optional)
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ cup fresh cranberries (frozen if fresh are unavailable)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup pistachios, shelled, crushed
(SEASON DUCK) Preheat sous vide or immersion circulator bath to 130F degrees. Using a sharp Forge To Table knife, score the skins in a criss-cross pattern and season each breast generously with salt and pepper.
(SOUS VIDE DUCK) Place into a vacuum bag or a plastic bag with crushed garlic and thyme sprigs. Ensure the breasts aren’t on top of each other and squeeze out as much air as possible. Place the bag into the preheated water bath and cook for at least 45 minutes and up to 4 hours.
(PREPARE CARROTS) Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line a baking sheet with 2 or 3 sheets of foil. Slice carrots on a diagonal into ¾” thick pieces (halved or quartered lengthwise if large). Place into a large bowl and toss with maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and salt, to taste.
(ROAST CARROTS) Spread carrots out onto the foil-lined sheet and top with cubes of butter. Roast carrots, tossing every 15 minutes until tender and browned around the edges, about 45-60 minutes.
(PREP CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine red wine vinegar, water, sugar, and fresh cranberries and bring to a boil. Cook until the cranberries start to pop, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly before placing contents in a blender. Add extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, and garlic, and process until smooth before seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.
(SEAR & SLICE DUCK) Once the duck breasts have circulated, remove them from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Place breasts skin-side-down in a non-stick or cast-iron skillet and set over high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, moving and pressing breasts to ensure good contact between skin and pan until golden brown and crisp, about 7 minutes. Flip and cook the opposite side until lightly colored, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and rest for 5 minutes. Once breasts have rested, slice on a bias into ½ inch strips.
(SERVE) Plate up with a swipe or spoon of cranberry vinaigrette on the bottom of the plate, topped by the sliced duck breast. Place warm carrots on the opposite side of the plate, and top the duck breast with crushed pistachios. Enjoy immediately!
There will be leftover duck fat in the pan after cooking, which is amazing for cooking other foods including eggs, spreading on toast, potato hash, or sauteed vegetables!
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