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Duck Breasts with Blackberry Thyme Compote
2 duck breasts ( 4-5 ounces each)
Diamond Kosher salt
6 ounces fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/3 cup red wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
5 thyme sprigs
Optional for serving: creamy parmesan polenta
Remove duck breasts from the refrigerator, score skin in a crosshatch pattern, salt generously, let them rest at room temp for 30-45 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together blackberries and brown sugar to macerate berries – it’s helpful to slightly smash the berries with a fork to allow juices to release. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Blot skin of duck breasts with paper towels to remove any moisture and place cold duck breasts skin-side down in a large cast iron skillet (the skillet should not be pre-heated). Place the skillet holding the duck breasts over medium-low heat to allow skin to slowly brown as you render the duck fat. To keep the sides of the duck from curling, you can weigh the breasts down with a smaller cast iron pan.
Skin should get nice and crispy after 10-20 minutes of cooking (depending on thickness of fat layer and size of duck breasts. When internal temp reaches 125°, flip breasts, pour off and save rendered duck fat, and finish cooking duck in the oven. This will only take 3-5 minutes to reach medium-rare (internal temp of 135-145°).
Set cooked duck breasts aside and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare your blackberry sauce.
Without cleaning the skillet, place it back over the medium flame on the stovetop. Cook shallots in 1 tablespoon rendered duck fat for 2 minutes – scrape up any brown bits. Add blackberry/sugar mixture, wine and wine vinegar, thyme springs, salt and black pepper to the pan, allow liquid to reduce by half. Taste for seasoning.
Slice duck and spoon sauce over slices. If desired, serve on a bed of creamy polenta.
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