Archive for November 21st, 2011

Boneless, skinless duck breasts have become widely available in recent years. Check your supermarket’s poultry case. If you can’t find them, ask at the meat counter; they can probably get some duck breasts in. If you’re starting with skin-on duck breasts, trim off most of the skin, but leave a long, narrow strip of skin attached, about 1 to 2 inches wide. Cut a few deep slits in the skin to help drain some of the excess fat. This little bit of left-on skin will add flavor and moisture to the meat. Grill the duck breast skin-side down for most of the grilling time to help crisp and dry out the skin. Then flip and finish grilling the other side for just a few minutes.

Prep: 5 minutes (plus 5 minutes for brine)
Brine: 2 to 4 hours
Grill: 4 to 6 minutes.

– Long-handled tongs.

– To juice a pomegranate, cut it into quarters from stem to blossom end. Remove the seeds from the pale membranes. Put the seeds in a food processor and purée until the juice and seeds separate, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Strain the juice into a medium bowl. One pomegranate yields about 1 cup juice.
– Save a few pomegranate seeds for garnish if you like.
– To save time, use bottled pomegranate juice. Most supermarkets carry it in the produce aisle. Or save even more time and look for bottled pomegranate molasses in place of juicing the pomegranates and cooking down the juice. Heat the pomegranate molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat before stirring in the remaining ingredients. Look for bottled pomegranate molasses in Middle Eastern markets.
– Duck should be cooked medium-rare because the meat is already firm and flavorful, like steak. It should still be rosy when you cut into it at the table.

Gas: Direct heat, medium-high (400° to 450°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 to 4 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire.

4 boneless, skinless duck breast halves
1¾ cups Steakhouse Brine
Juice of 2 pomegranates (about 2 cups; see Tips) 2 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Oil for coating grill grate
2 tablespoons olive oil.

1. Put the duck breasts and brine in a large zipper-lock bag. Press the air out of the bag, seal, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
2. Remove the duck breasts from the brine and discard the brine. Rest the duck breasts at room temperature before grilling, about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, put the pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and boil over high heat until syrupy and reduced to about ¼ cup, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the butter, sugar, salt, and pepper. Keep warm.
4. Heat the grill as directed.
5. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Coat the duck breasts all over with the olive oil and put them on the grill. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare (about 140°F on an instant-read thermometer). If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 450°F.
6. Remove the duck breasts to a platter or plates, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice on the diagonal and serve drizzled with the pomegranate sauce.

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