This week So Much On My Plate observes Oktoberfest and a nice alternative to turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner for two. First, my recipe for those who don’t want to roast a whole turkey for Thanksgiving. I get my duck breasts at Cowichan Bay Farm near Cowichan Bay…and the blackberries? Well, I pick them myself from my own property or from any number of clumps of blackberry bushes along my street. You could purchase frozen blackberries, or try using blueberries or raspberries instead.
Duck Breasts with Blackberry-Chocolate Sauce Serves 4
4 boneless duck breasts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
1 ounce orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Triple Sec (optional)
1 tbsp. semi-sweet dark chocolate, roughly chopped
For the sauce:
Put the blackberries, sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and simmer until the berries have completely broken down. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Strain the berry mixture into a bowl to remove all the seeds, then return the juice to the pot. Add the balsamic vinegar, the cinnamon and the orange liqueur and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Remove from heat, and whisk in the chocolate a little at a time. Then whisk in the butter a half-tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while you prepare the duck breasts.
Pre-heat oven to 450F, and heat until very hot a cast-iron or oven-safe heavy-bottomed frypan large enough to hold the breasts in one layer. With a sharp knife, score the skin of each duck breast, without cutting through to the flesh, in a diamond-shaped pattern. Season the breasts all over with salt and pepper and lay them skin side down in the frypan. When the skin has become crisp and golden and the fat has rendered out of it, remove the duck to a plate and carefully drain most of the fat from the pan. Put the duck breasts back in, skin side up, and roast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the pan and tent with foil and let rest for a few minutes.
Place each breast on individual plates and pour a little pool of sauce around it. This would go well with a simple green salad and some wild rice. Enjoy!
The other recipe I talked about on the show is much more simple. Simple take about 4 sausages of your choice, chicken, beef, pork, spicy, mild, hot, whatever, and grill or fry until cooked. Let cool, then slice on the diagonal into half-inch rounds. Chop up an onion and some garlic and saute in a large pot with some olive or vegetable oil. When the onion has coloured, add the cooked sausage, a tablespoon of caraway seed, and a large jar of sauerkraut that you have drained and rinsed in cold water. Then pour in the better part of a bottle of robust beer, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to let the flavours mingle, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some mashed potatoes and grainy mustard. Instant Oktoberfest!