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


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.


Top with the arugula and blueberries…


Then the onions and another drizzle of vinaigrette…


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


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.

tasty tuesday: duck tacos with caramelized onions and fava beans


You want to say “…and a nice Chianti,” don’t you?

That’s exactly what I did at Fresh Market yesterday when I passed those odd bean pods and I decided that they’d be my color and crunch elements for tonight’s taco Tasty Tuesday.

I got the idea for duck tacos from one of my assistant principals at my school.  He knew that I liked to cook (and eat), so we started talking about our favorite things to make.  He’s a big hunter and cooks duck and venison frequently, so he asked if I’d ever had duck fajitas.  I was immediately intrigued, especially because I’ve never cooked with duck and have been looking for something other than duck a l’orange.  I changed the delivery because (a) Alex doesn’t like bell peppers and (b) as I began to brainstorm about the dish, caramelized onions sounded super yummy instead of fajita onions.

These weren’t difficult to make at all, but I’ve got to admit, they tasted pretty fancy!  The duck takes some time to marinate and the onions are a little needy, but it was no problem at all for me today as I was packing my life away for GHP.  Here’s what you need:

Duck Tacos with Caramelized Onions and Fava Beans

4 duck breasts, skin removed

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp. blueberry ginger key lime jam, gifted by Melanie over at Cooking Up Happy

2 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce

1/3 cup olive oil

2 onions (I used one sweet white and one red, but it’s up to you)

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. Kosher salt

1 pkg. fava beans, beans removed from pods (about 1/2 cup loose beans)

small corn tortillas (5″)

Slice the duck breast into 1/2-inch strips and place in freezer bag or plastic tupperware.  In a bowl, whisk together the Worcestershire, soy sauce, jam, Sriracha, and 1/3 cup olive oil.  Cover the duck with the marinade and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

In a heavy skillet, coat the bottom of the pan with 3 Tbsp. olive oil and set on low heat.  Thinly slice the onions, throw them in the skillet, and top with the salt.  Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.  Take the cover off of the skillet, stir the onions, and let them cook for another ten minutes.  Repeat this on about a 50 minute cycle.  I know it sounds tedious, but it’s really simple!  Check out this blog post from Dangerously Enough blog for a more detailed breakdown for caramelized onions–the brown color is everything here!

Once the onions are soggy, brown, and delectable, take them out of the skillet, turn the heat up to medium high, and throw in the fava beans.  Let them absorb some of the yummy onion flavor and stir occasionally.

To cook the duck, heat a grill pan to medium high and let the duck pieces cook for about two minutes on each side.  Cooking them to medium keeps them tender and not too chewy.

To assemble, take two corn tacos in your hand, throw on about three pieces of duck and top with a pinch of onions about about four fava beans.  We enjoyed ours with some black beans and chips and guacamole!