My poor non-French people,
What are you cooking when the weather is cold as a duck?
Un froid de canard is that terrible cold weather you think is kind of romantic when you’re thinking of it in the midst of summer heat, and totally depressing when it’s actually happening and you suddenly feel that you’ve been converted into a gigantic icecube…
I live in LA so I really can’t complain about that kind of problem anymore, but today the weather is not that great, so that’s how I thought of “froid de canard“… and decided to share with you this great duck recipe.
Magret de canard et patates extraordinaires
1 Duck breast per person
1/2 pound of potatoes per person
1 glass of Jurançon to drink and cook with
Duck is a big part of good food in the South West of France.
That’s where foie gras is mostly made, and I also miss it very much here by the way.
I was very happy to find out that duck breasts can now be bought quite easily in the US.
I buy mine at Whole Foods or at the Farmer’s market, but you can also order some on line at the very good dArtagnan.com, created by the French and perfect Ariane Daguin.
Her ducks are raised in the US, with all the love and savoir-faire developped in France for centuries.
This recipe must sound like a family recipe to her : it was actually developped by her own father.
I was lucky enough to have lunch with André Daguin once, and I can tell you he’s the exact image of what you would imagine of a French chef when you were a kid.
Tall, impressive, with a huge voice (and a big south-west accent), the kind of man who knows what he wants and also knows how to shout it at his brigades (yes, a three stars kitchen team in France is called like a military squad, and a few seconds in one would help you understand why).
Anyhow, Monsieur Daguin was very proud to tell me how he was the first chef to cook magret de canard.
Up until the 60’s in France, duck was always eaten roasted ( La tour d’Argent‘s infamous Canard à la presse would be the best example) or confit (cured in salt and then slowly cooked in duck fat).
Mister Daguin told me that nobody had thought of cooking the breasts seperately : cooked in confit, they were not interresing, so everbody forgot about them.
In the video I’ve attached, you can see him explaining how he decided to cook them as a steak.
This was so strange for people at the time that he had to hide the fact that it wasn’t beef steak!
Now magret is on the top ten list of best loved dishes in France.
And the thing is, it’s very easy to cook ! At least the way I do it…
- Peel the potatoes
- Slice them thin, and let them soak in water for 20 min
- Cut thin parralel lines in the fat of the back of the breasts
- Pre-heat a skillet on high
- Put the duck breasts on the skin, in the skillet
- Reduce heat to medium
- The duck fat is slowly getting out
- Meanwhile, dry the potatoes with a dry towel
- When fat is all over the pan, add the potatoes
- mix gently as the patates get brown and delicious : they get cook in the best fat ever : duck fat!
- This should take around 8 minutes
- then flip the magrets for around 4 minutes
- The magrets should still be kind of pink inside. And the patates crispy and flavourful
Et voilà !
Bon appétit les amis !