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Seared Duck Breast w/ Polenta

The pairing for this particular Lot series spurred a bit of debate. I went back to the drawing board a few times and finally landed on Duck. Lot 286 is a Pinot from Russian River which carries a bit of fruit and has an incredible velvet finish. It is bold enough though to stand up to the richness and fattiness of duck.

I wanted to be sure we brought in some acid and sweetness to help cut the fattiness of the duck and tie in the fruit tones of the wine. My mind was stuck on pomegranates. To start a sauce for the duck, I began with some pure pomegranate juice, sugar, thyme and a bit of pomegranate balsamic vinegar. This was brought to a low simmer for 30 minutes, until the sauce could coat a spoon. With the sauce working, it was time to concentrate on the duck. Sourced from Marina Meats, this duck was local, fresh, and of outstanding quality. I wouldn’t need to fuss to much over it, but I had to be sure to treat it accordingly. Sprinkled generously with Kosher salt and fresh pepper, the duck breast was scored, and then sauteed skin side down in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 25 min. This low and slow method allows all of that wonderful fat to be rendered out and saved for a later use, and also produces an extremely crispy and tasty duck skin… the best part! After about 10 minutes, the fat needs to be drained from the pan. It is incredible how much comes out of one duck breast (about a cup). At about the 25 minute mark, you can turn up the heat and flip the duck breast. I gave it another 7-10 minutes before pulling it off the heat and let to rest.

With the sauce and the duck finished and waiting, it was time to get everything together to plate. Keeping on the lighter side with the starch, I decided to use a simple polenta cake recipe, and cut it into rounds. Lightly brushed with butter, I toasted the polenta just a tad to add additional texture to the dish. The final plate came together very artfully with a generous spoon push of the pomegranate reduction sauce, a nice round of polenta, some fresh arugula for color and crunch, and finally a few slices of the perfectly cooked duck breast.

This was an incredible dish, and also an incredible pairing. Don’t be afraid of duck! It’s really pretty simple to cook