My love of Ducks has been well documented, since I was a little boy and my father and grandfather took me for the first time I have loved hunting ducks. After I started duck hunting with a friend of mine named Eric Passe is when I really began to love eating duck. Eric isn't a duck hunter he is a duck killer and it is because of him that I usually have plenty of duck to cook. I also have a friend, Rick Edwards who raises ducks at his small farm in Cannon falls. For a guy who loves to eat duck, I certainly have the right friends. The ducks I made for dinner tonight came from Ricks farm and were a beautiful Moulard duck that were raised wondering around Ricks orchard enjoying the cherries, plums, apricots and apples the trees would drop.
A lot of people have never tried duck or when they have it has been cooked poorly and puts them off. Others won't cook it because they think it is too difficult. I would like to change all of that. Duck really couldn't be any easier to prepare and as far as taste goes I would put it at the top of the food chain. For these duck breasts all I did was score them, salt and pepper them and grill them. If you are thinking that it can't be that easy then you are wrong, It is.
Scoring the ducks just means cutting some hash marks into the skin side, so the fat in the skin can render out and the skin can get nice and crisp. For this I like to use a standard utility knife, poke the blade out about an 1/8 of an inch and cut diagonals in the skin. Then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and let stand for about fifteen minutes before grilling. Lastly lay the duck breasts skin side down on a grill set to medium high heat. The fat from the breasts will cause some flare up so keep a close eye on it. After about 4-5 minutes check the duck to see if the skin is getting crispy, if it is still rubbery let it sit a while longer, if it is crispy turn the ducks and grill the other side for 2-3 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer you are looking to get 135-140 degrees out of the breasts, duck is best served medium rare.
When you remove the duck from the grill you need to let it rest for 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the breast you are cooking. These were relatively small breasts so they rested for about 5 minutes. If you cut into the breasts to soon all the juices will run out of the duck and you will lose flavor. After the duck has rested you can slice it and serve it any way you want to, it is truly great just as is. I served mine with a stinging nettle and ramp Chimichurri and some grilled beets I got at the farmers market and it was wonderful.
Ramp and Nettle Chimichurri Sauce
1 1/2 cups nettles
6 ramp bulbs
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste