Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast

4 boneless duck breasts (1/2 pound each)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
  2. Dry the duck breasts with paper towels and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat a dry sauté pan and put the duck breast, skin-side-down, in the pan to render some of the fat from under the skin and to crisp the skin at the same time. Continue sautéing for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Turn the breasts over and put them in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked to the desired doneness: about 10 minutes for medium-rare, 15 minutes for medium.

  3. Remove the breasts from the oven, put them on a platter, cover with foil to keep them warm and allow them to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing.

Assembly: Cut the duck breasts into thin slices. You will need a very sharp knife because the skin will be very crisp. Fan the slices out in a semi-circle on the lower half of each of four warm dinner-size plates. Put a big spoonful of Pumpkin Purée in the top center of the semi-circle. Arrange three Brussels Sprouts on each side of the fanned breast. Pour the Dried Cranberry-Balsamic Sauce evenly over the sliced duck breast. Sprinkle each plate with some of the reserved plumped cranberries.


Pumpkin Purée

2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch garam masala or ground nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin or squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place it, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
  3. Scoop out the pulp and put it into a blender or a food processor. Season to taste with raz el hanout, garam masala or nutmeg and salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

Nora's Note: You can also peel and chop the pumpkin or squash and steam it in a medium saucepan using a collapsible steamer. I warn you, however, that peeling raw pumpkin isn't easy. I find I can coax my customers into eating different and unusual vegetables if I purée them. For example, even the unpopular beet finds new fans when I purée it with sautéed onions, boiled potatoes, caraway seeds and salt and pepper.


Brussels Sprouts

1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

Remove the outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts and make a cross in the base. This step will shorten the cooking time. Steam for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on their size, or until the sprouts are bright green and cooked through.


Dried Cranberry-Balsamic Sauce

1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups chicken stock
4 roasted shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
  2. Put the shallots in a small, non-reactive baking dish. Dress with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until soft.
  3. Put the cranberries in a medium saucepan, add 1 1/2 cups of stock and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the cranberries are plumped. Remove 1/4 cup of the plumped cranberries with a slotted spoon and reserve for garnish.
  4. Put the remaining cranberries in a blender with the shallots and vinegar and purée until smooth. Add the remaining stock, if necessary, to thin out the purée until it has a sauce-like consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nora's Note: Dried cranberries are sweetened with fruit juices and therefore are much sweeter than fresh cranberries. If you can't find dried cranberries, substitute tart or sweet dried cherries or even dried blueberries.


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