You know what my favorite kind of meat is? Free meat. It's so nice when someone calls and says, "I just killed a whole bunch of (deer, rabbit, elk, duck). Want some?" The answer is always a resounding "Yes!"
And so, a few Sundays ago, we cooked some of my favorite kind of meat--in this case, free duck killed by my sister's boyfriend Caleb. One of the downsides of free meat, however, is that you don't get to request in what form the meat is given to you. In this case, the breasts had been carefully butchered (for which we were thankful), but the skin and fat had been removed. Not that I blame Caleb: the alternative would be to have left the skin on but to have plucked all the feathers. I've never plucked a duck (say that three times fast!), but I can't imagine that it's a pleasant experience.
The duck breasts, then, looked nothing like the ones you see in a restaurant. My concerns were twofold: first, I couldn't find any recipes for duck breasts without skin, and second, I was worried that they'd be dry and tough. But hey, who's going to let such trivial matters stand in the way of cooking free meat? Certainly not me.
I soaked the breasts in milk for a day (this takes the gaminess out), then I rinsed them and marinated them for half a day. Then Drew grilled them medium-rare, and they turned out lovely. Perhaps a little tougher than restaurant duck breasts, but they had a good flavor. I served them with a sauce made of melted pepper jelly, butter, orange rind, worchestshire sauce, and onion powder.
A word on marinades. I love making marinades because they allow for endless experimentation and creativity. My basic formula is this: 3/4L + 1/4O + H = goodness. L = any type of flavored liquid, including but not limited to fruit juice, vinegar, or booze. O = any type of oil. H = fresh or dried herbs. My marinade for the duck was cranberry-pomegranate juice, olive oil, and rosemary. I used fruit juice in this one because I love duck served with a berry sauce. The best duck dish I've ever had was at the Maple Street Cafe in New Orleans, where I had duck breast in a blueberry-cognac sauce. Scrumptious.
Anyway, I've yet to really give you a recipe, have I? Here's one for the rice that we served with the duck. Arthur called it Persian; I call it good.
2 cups white rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan and saute garlic over medium heat. Add rice. Add chicken stock, kosher salt, and lemon juice. Cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Once rice absorbs all of the liquid, add the other ingredients. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.