When you live with an avid sportsman, you find yourself on an endless search for new ways to cook the random wild game that appears in your fridge. If you have one in your family, you probably know the feeling. Over time, I’ve learned to enjoy the adventure and feel lucky to have access to locally, sustainably sourced meats. But this past weekend when the hubs came home with a bounty of tasty duck breasts, there was no question about what I wanted to make.
This meal is one of my favorite autumn dishes because every part of it tastes so seasonal. The rich duck breast pairs perfectly with the fruity-sharp flavors of the salad or with the earthy risotto so it can easily be served over either dish. Try it with a Pinot Noir or a nutty brown ale. (Can’t get duck? See substitutions below!)
Mixed Green Salad with Duck, Fennel, Cherries & Goat Cheese
6 small duck breasts (preferably wood duck or teal)*
4 Tbsp butter
1 bulb fennel, shaved
1 handful dried cherries
1 large apple, julienned
3 oz goat cheese
* Flank steak or warm tortellini for vegetarians would make great substitutes.
Carefully slice fennel bulb into thin shavings (if only I had a mandoline!). Soak fennel for 20-30 minutes in water to eliminate bitterness. Julienne apple. In a large bowl, add mixed greens, cherries, apple, walnuts and goat cheese. Remove fennel from water and pat dry, adding to salad.
Melt butter in a saute pan. Salt and pepper each duck breast and add to pan. Sear duck on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Duck is best served medium rare so time will vary based on the thickness of the meat. Salad serves 4, duck serves 2.
Balsamic Fennel Vinaigrette
1 branch fennel fronds, minced
1/3 C olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp mustard
Finely chop fennel fronds. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well to emulsify. Drizzle over salad.
1 1/2 C arborio rice
1 pkg baby portobella mushrooms, chopped
3-4 C chicken stock
1 1/2 C white wine
1 shallot or 1/4 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 C parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sage
2 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper
In a small sauce pan, combine chicken stock and mushrooms and bring to a simmer. In a large sauce pan, cook shallot/onion in olive oil over medium heat until onion is soft. Add arborio rice and cook for about 1 minute. Add in white wine and cook, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Add 1 C mushroom stock, continuing to stir until liquid is again absorbed. Repeat process, continually adding stock and stirring until it is absorbed. When most of the liquid is gone, test rice. It should be slightly al dente and creamy. Stir in butter, parmesan and sage. Add salt and pepper until flavors pop.
Got wild game junkies in your family? Have a favorite seasonal recipe? Let’s swap! Leave a comment or head over to our Facebook page to share!