tasty tuesday: pan-roasted duck breasts with blueberries, arugula, caramelized vidalias, and molasses vinaigrette + quick-fry okra and almonds

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Hugh Acheson has now made two nights special in our kitchen.

Last night, Alex created something so delicious that I just handed him my plate and he knew that I demanded seconds.  Our favorite Top Chef retweeted Alex’s post from last night, and now our fanboy/girldom is at an all-time high.  Yes, we’re food nerds–but you knew that already, right?

Tonight’s two dishes come (with a few modifications) from Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South.  We’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but let it be known that this cookbook is certainly worth having.  The boiled peanut recipe, for instance, has revolutionized my idea of the tasty morsels we love to eat in the summer.

But, I digress.  Tonight’s meal was a lovely Tasty Tuesday, if I do say so myself.  If you want to create a fancy meal for company that’s not difficult at all but looks like you know what you’re doing, this should be your go-to.

My last post before my GHP departure was duck tacos with caramelized onions and fava beans.  I was super jazzed with the way they turned out, and I was equally happy that cooking duck was not the arduous task I thought it might be.  That said, I’ve gained some confidence in the area of cooking water fowl, and duck is oh-so-tasty.  If you like dark meat chicken (and if you don’t, we can’t be friends), you’ll love duck breast.

The okra dish takes no time at all to make and gives you the same salty, crunchy experience of fried okra with less grease and a more grown-up feel.  It’s a perfect summer side dish, and the texture makes it an excellent pairing for the indulgent duck breast, silky caramelized vidalias, and bright blueberries.

Pan-Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberries, Arugula, Caramelized Vidalias, and Molasses Vinaigrette

2 duck breasts, skin-on

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 Tbsp. canola oil

1/2 Vidalia onion peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 Tbsp. molasses

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 cups arugula

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Using 1/4 tsp. of the salt, season the duck breasts on both sides.  On the skin side, create a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife.  Heat a large pan to medium heat and add the oil.  Cook the duck breasts skin-side down for 8 minutes, then flip them cook for about 3 more minutes.  Using these times, the duck should be about medium rare.  This is the way we like it, but if you’re rare meat averse, I’d recommend cooking the second side for a few more minutes.  When you’ve cooked the duck to your desired temperature and color, remove the breasts and let them rest on a cutting board.

Don’t throw away that glorious duck fat, though–the fun is just beginning!  Add the sliced onions to the remaining oil in the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

During your wait for the onions, make the vinaigrette.  Grab a small bowl and whisk the molasses, mustard, and ginger together.  Next, slowly mix in the olive oil, cider vinegar, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

In a small bowl, combine the arugula and blueberries.  Pour about 3 Tbsp. of the vinaigrette over the greens, toss, and set aside.

Slice the duck breasts along the crosshatch marks you made earlier.

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Top with the arugula and blueberries…

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Then the onions and another drizzle of vinaigrette…

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Then eat your way to happiness with some okra on the side.

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Quick-Fry Okra and Almonds

1 lb. okra, stems trimmed and sliced lengthwise

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter

1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Heat the olive oil and butter in 12-inch pan on high heat. When the butter is melted, add the okra and cook for about three minutes.  Next, add the chopped almonds and salt, stir, and cook for about another minute.  Serve immediately.

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