Duck with Pear-Cardamom Puree and Caramel Almonds
DUCK WITH PEAR-CARDAMOM PUREE AND CARAMEL ALMONDS
1 1/4 cups marcona almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 Bosc or other pears, peeled, cored, diced
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup water
5 cardamom seeds or 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
4 boneless duck breasts, 6-8 ounces each, skin on
1/8 tsp. each: salt, freshly ground pepper
For the almonds, combine the sugar and just enough of the water to
moisten it in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture turns golden brown and measures about 275 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Stir in the almonds, stirring quickly to coat. Pour almonds onto a parchment-lined baking pan; cool. Roughly chop the almonds, remove excess caramel. Set aside.
For the puree, heat the pears, butter, water and cardamom seeds to a
simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth; pass through a fine mesh sieve. Keep warm.
For the duck, score the skin side of the duck in a crosshatch pattern,
taking care not to cut into the flesh; season with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in a cold, dry skillet; cook the duck over medium heat until the skin has started to turn a deep golden brown, about 7 minutes. Turn; cook 3 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack over a plate; set aside.
Spoon a fourth of the pear puree onto each plate; slice each duck breast, fanning out over the puree. Scatter some of the caramelized chopped almonds over the duck.
Yield: 4 servings.
Notes: Chef Andrew Zimmerman of del Toro Cafe prefers to use marcona almonds from Spain in this recipe. These large, flat almonds have a more intense flavor and are sold at specialty stores and some supermarkets. Substitute with blanched almonds.
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