Storified by Arya McLean· Wed, Apr 03 2013 23:25:40
Duck breast is an exotic alternative to the more usual lamb or steak. Fatty, succulent, crispy, and delicious, this simple recipe, adapted from The ‘Best-of-All” Cook Book by Florence Brobeck, includes searing the duck until brown then baking it in a casserole dish with onion and celery gravy and finally flambéing the duck with some brandy. The result is a one-of-a-kind dish that makes an ordinary evening extra-special. Serve this with a good bottle of red wine from Southern France where duck breast is a known specialty. Classic pairings for duck breast include Madiran, Pomerol, Medoc, or Corbières. Syrah or Pinot Noir also go exceptionally well with duck.
The duck breast is a particularly fatty portion of the duck. For a more healthy gourmet food, you can trim the fat from the duck before cooking. Too much fat can be unhealthy but remember that too little fat will dry out the meat and result to less flavor and succulence. In this gourmet cooking recipe, the duck is seared in butter to give it additional flavor and give it a golden brown color. You can, however, omit the butter and cook the duck straight in the pan since the grease from the fat and the skin will easily ooze out from the duck once it is heated on high. Just use a thick nonstick pan when browning the meat so that it doesn’t scorch or burn. Cook the skin side first to melt the fat and allow it to cook in its own grease.
Duck breasts are typically sold in frozen packets. Before cooking, thaw the frozen duck breasts properly by leaving them in the refrigerator overnight or allowing them to soak in cold water sealed in their plastic packaging. Pat them dry before searing to promote proper browning. Trim off some of the fat and the skin edges according to the shape of the breast. Cut shallow crisscross marks on the skin without cutting into the meat to help release excess fat when cooking.