SUGAR-AND-SPICE-CRUSTED DUCK BREAST
For this recipe, partridge or grouse, or duck breasts that have been trimmed of fat, can be substituted with squab breast.
I have even made this with chicken cooked in goose fat, though it lacks the gamy qualities that make the dish really
In 1998, Norwegian chef Terje Ness won the unofficial world championship in cooking, the Bocuse d'Or,
by making one stunning creation with Pollock and scallops and one with squab.
I tasted the menu several times as he was preparing for the competition,
and his different experiments with squab were all excellent, from luxurious truffled versions with lots of foie gras to the
more traditional game preparations. He finally decided on a bold and spicy version.
Recreating the dish takes a
world champion, but Terje taught me how to make a simplified version that can easily be made at home. It contains all the
flavors of the winning dish.
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1 tablespoon beef marrow or unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons ground cumin, preferably freshly ground
1 teaspoon ground anise, preferably freshly ground
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 squab breasts (or one whole duck breast)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a small bowl, combine the marrow with half the orange zest, cumin, anise,
and pepper and all the salt. Rub the breasts with the mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Sear the breasts for 2 minutes on both sides.
Transfer breasts to a baking dish and bake for 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
Reserve the cooking juices in the pan.
Preheat the broiler.
On a small plate, mix the brown sugar with the remaining orange zest, cumin, anise, and pepper and the garlic.
Roll the breasts in the sugar mixture and place them on a flat baking rack. Place the rack under the broiler and the
baking dish underneath. Broil for 2 minutes, or until the sugar has melted. Transfer to plates and let rest for 3 to 4
minutes before serving.
with the cooking juices.