I made a pan seared duck breast, served it over stewed apricot slices, and made a ginger and apricot sauce with shallots and chives. When the duck breast had finished cooking, I fried long potato crisps in the duck fat to serve as a garnish.
First, a lot of prep. I used a mandolin to slice a potato into thin slices. Later, I'd cut the slices into strips, but for now, I put the slices in cold water to wait until the duck was done.
I had six apricots. I sliced four of them into thin slices, and I diced two apricots, to be puréed in the food processor. After a rough chop, I added a tablespoon of white wine and processed until smooth, then strained out any skin or large chunks still remaining.
To stew the apricot slices, I used a half-stick of butter, then sliced some ginger into thin, but large, chunks (kinda like medallions). I sautéed the ginger in the butter, then added the apricots, 1/4 cup brown sugar, a couple pinches of kosher salt, and 1/4 cup white wine. I put everything on a slow simmer for 15 minutes until the apricots softened, and the liquid reduced and got syrupy.
I'd end up using the leftover syrup in the savory sauce, to thicken and sweeten it a bit. But, as the apricots simmered, I heated up 1/4 stick of butter in another pan, and sautéed some more ginger medallions, along with some chopped shallots.
When the shallots had softened and the ginger was smelling nice, I poured in the apricot purée, added 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 1/4 cup of white wine and some chives. This would reduce by half.
While the sauces were simmering, I preheated the oven to 400. I scored the skin of the duck breasts, put a teaspoon or so of olive oil in a pan (just enough to make the bottom a little slick), and seared the breasts, skin side down. I added only salt and pepper, and when the skin was ready, I flipped the breasts, and threw the pan in the 400 degree oven until the breasts were medium (probably another 5-7 minutes or so in the oven).
I removed the breasts from the pan and set them aside, and was left with that wonderful pan of duck fat. Duck fat fries are getting trendy, according to the latest issue of Gourmet magazine, which is a shame because duck prices will probably go through the roof now. I patted dry my potato slices, cut into strips, and fried in the pan of oil on medium-high heat, then sprinkled well with kosher salt.
I strained my apricots, removed the ginger medallions, then strained the shallots and ginger out of the sauce. I combined the liquids into one pan, and simmered a minute or two to incorporate everything together.
Then, plating. I put down a layer of apricot slices, put sliced duck breast over that, poured some sauce over the top, garnished with the crisps on the side and some chives on top.
The technique is above, Here's the ingredient list. This particular meal served 4 (my parents happened to be in town).
Stewed ginger apricots: 4 apricots, sliced 1/2 stick butter 2-3 thin medallions of ginger 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup white wine 1 tsp kosher salt
Apricot ginger sauce: Apricot purée (two apricots, diced, with 1 tablespoon white wine, processed until smooth, and strained) 1/4 stick butter 1-2 thin medallions of ginger 1 sliced shallot 1/2 cup chicken stock 1/4 cup white wine 3-4 chives
Seared duck breast: 4 duck breasts, patted dry, skin scored 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt Cracked black pepper, to taste 1 tsp olive oil
Duck fat fried potato crisps: 4 thin, long slices of potato, sliced into 1/3rds Duck fat from searing the duck breasts 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
Deconstruction: I think this one turned out really well. I purposefully seasoned the duck simply, figuring the apricot/ginger would brighten up the simple dark-meat flavor of the meat. The ginger medallions also were a good idea, as the butter picked up the ginger flavor without it being overwhelming (and man, it's easy to overdo minced ginger). I probably would have used more chives in the sauce, and maybe garnished with chopped chive to give some of that green-grassy taste to the bright fruitiness. That's nitpicky, though. It was a nicely savory taste, not nearly as sweet as duck a l'orange or any of the other sweet berry/cherry sauces that sometimes will coat duck. Also, I should have made a basket of the potato crisps. They were a hit.