Duck Breast with Turnip Purée, Caramelized Carrots, and Braised Leeks
In this recipe, meaty duck breast is flanked by two fabulous sides: a wonderfully light-textured, turnip purée topped with sweet, buttery carrots, and lemony leeks that balance the rich, savory duck. For best results, prepare this dish in the order it is presented, prepping all ingredients in advance. It’s easy to reheat the purée and carrots prior to serving.
Duck is particularly wine friendly. Fruit-driven, elegant red wines such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier would work well in your glass. We also recommend a lush, buttery Chardonnay, or fruity Riesling or Gewürztraminer among whites.
3 large turnips (about 1 1/2 lb/680 g total weight), peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups/360 ml heavy (whipping) cream/double cream
6 tbsp/85 g unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
4 medium leeks, white parts only
2 boneless duck breasts, about 1 lb/455 g each
1 tbsp canola oil
Fresh lemon juice for serving
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the turnips, cream, and 1 tbsp of the butter. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer until the turnips are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the turnip mixture to a blender or food processor and, working in batches if necessary, process to a smooth purée. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Transfer the purée to a large bowl, cover, and set aside.
In a small sauté pan or frying pan, melt 1 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the carrots, and sauté until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a medium sauté pan or frying pan, melt 2 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté, turning occasionally to avoid burning, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup/120 ml water, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the leeks are tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to braise until most, but not all, of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat, re-cover, and set aside.
Cut each duck breast in half lengthwise and trim away excess fat. (Do not remove the skin.) Using a fork, poke 4 or 5 evenly spaced holes in the skin of each breast . (This will allow the rendered fat to drain into the pan.) Lightly salt and pepper the duck breasts on both sides.
In a large frying pan or sauté pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Place the breasts, skin-side down, in the pan and cook until the skin is crisp, 6–8 minutes. Spoon off and discard the rendered fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, turn the breasts, and cook for 3–4 minutes longer for medium-rare. Transfer the breasts to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.
While the meat is resting, return the turnip purée to a saucepan and reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (You can also reheat in a microwave oven.) Reheat the carrots over medium heat, stirring gently. Carve the duck breasts crosswise into slices about 1/4 in/6 mm thick.
To serve, fan 4 or 5 slices of duck in the center of each of 4 warmed plates. Place a leek to one side of the duck breast slices and cut it in half lengthwise. Sprinkle each leek with a few drops—no more than 1/4 tsp—of lemon juice. On the other side of the duck breast, mound the turnip purée, dividing it evenly. Top each mound of turnip purée with 1 tbsp of the caramelized carrots. Garnish the duck, leek, and purée with a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Serve at once.
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