Monday, March 31, 2008
The official first Barbeque of the year took place here in La Sechere on Saturday night! We had a tiny window of opportunity, a beautiful warm spring day that appeared after a week of rain and wind, and as the coals died down in the darkness, the day before France officially switched to daylight savings time, a new storm was on the horizon.
I got out the barbeque and fired it up with charcoal briquets, using trimmings from the fig tree as kindling. We had a few guests and I had thawed out a few magret de canard we had bought during the foir au gras a few months earlier.
I don't know how available magret de canard is in the USA, so this might be a vicarious post if you want to try this. Here, we are in the land of ducks and the type of duck raised is the Barbary. They are as big as geese and raised commercially for foie gras and confit. The males have big muscular breasts and each side is like a small beef tenderloin with a layer of fat.
The meat is red like beef and many people, including myself swear that they would rather have a perfectly cooked magret than a beef steak.
It is one of the culinarty specialities of Southwest France. In a pan, it is seared and cooked very quickly over a hot fire. The meat should be rare and sliced thinly before serving.
The fat side of the breast is scored diagonally with a sharp knife.
I enjoy barbequed duck breast. I score the breasts, then when the fire is nice and even, I put the breasts, lean side on the hot grill and then move them after a few seconds to sear them with an X pattern from the gill.
Then I flip them and the fat renders. This can present a problem, but if you are a watchful griller and keep moving them, you can avoid incineration from fat flare ups. I usually find that over a hot grill they take about 12 minutes.
Let them rest on the cutting board for 5 minutes, then slice no more than 1/4 inch thick and serve! The slices should be pink inside!
We traditionally serve them with sauteed potatoes, cooked in duck fat with garlic and parsley and a fresh green salad.
I serve the magret with sweet accents also. On Saturday night, I had mirabelle plums from last year. I also like fig jam as a sweet accent. Duck goes well with fruit. The classic roast ducks are with cherries or a l'orange.
A very wonderful classic dish is the sauteed duck breast done in a hot pan. The pan is then deglazed with just a bit of white wine, then green pepper corns are added with a bit of cream. The duck is served the same way, carved thin and with the sauce on the side. I love green pepper corns. My wife brought back some fresh green pepper corns from a market in Thailand, which she froze and we have been enjoying them for a few weeks now! They seem to be impossible to find anywhere except of course for the bottled ones.........they are good too.
Well, if you can find nice thick Barbary Duck Breasts to Barbeque, try this!
Bon Apetit, bien sur!