This recipe from the Aquitaine region of France is one of my favorites, perfectly blending the flavors of vanilla, balsamic velours/glaze, apples and butter sauteed onions with duck breast. This enormous duck comes from the preferred duck breed in the U.S., Moulard, a mixture of Pekin duck and Muscovy duck. Muscovy is mostly eaten in Europe and produces a smaller breast and a richer, meatier taste, I think.
The reason I first made this Aquitaine recipe was because the recipe called for packets of vanilla sugar which I’d seen in the stores before, vaguely wondered why anyone would need mixed vanilla and sugar powder. Not interested enough to ask, I assumed it had something to to with French baking and immediately lost interest 🙂
I found this recipe in a French Saveurs magazine. The fat of the breasts are first scored, then sprinkled with the vanilla sugar on both sides.
A balsamic velours is then prepared with balsamic vinegar and brushed over the entire breast. Preparing the velours is fairly simple but if you can’t be bothered, balsamic velours is sold in bottles in France. I checked out Amazon for a bottle of the velours but a very small bottle was $41.oo. Forget that! Unless in France, just boil and reduce the vinegar by half, then brush on. Refrigerate the breasts for at least 2 hours but best over night.
It’s apple season, but for the 2nd year in a row, our apple tree couldn’t be bothered. We assumed this when we saw so few blossoms in spring. Oh well, the squirrels and birds are enjoying the handful that ripened. The Gala, Granny Smith and Pink Lady were purchased at the supermarket. I hate that! It’s the apple season!
I love this corer and slicer. I think I have one in France. It also cores and slices pears. I miss M. Parret, Vero, Tonio, Toutoune, Bruno, our house, the wine, the food and really, everyone in Sens. I miss the French. While I understand why we have been banned, it’s depressing. Woe is me!! I know they’re having fun, even with the virus. I’m not.
Anyway, spiced sauteed apples are a treat and perfect for the duck breast. My husband and I ate a few directly from the pan 🙂
I don’t know why I can’t seem to find yellow onions. The red ones, I’ve heard have a problem with salmonella. I like all onions but prefer to saute with yellow onions. But these were fine. I sliced them thin and sweated them slowly in butter.
A fresh baguette with these onions would be more than enough.
And now for the pièce de résistance, magret de canard, perfectly cooked and with a hint of vanilla flavoring. You could cook this a bit longer, maybe one minute, but I wouldn’t.
Duck Breast Aquitaine
2 duck breasts, fat scored
3 packages of sucre vanille
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, plus 2 tbsp
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
3 apples, cored and cut into 8 pieces each
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar
Score the magrets on both sides in a diamond pattern, sprinkle with 1 package of sucre vanille. Set aside.
In a sauce pan, boil 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1 package of sucre vanille and 1/2 tsp of black pepper until the liquid is reduced by half. Cool and brush the breasts with this velours, reserving the rest of the liquid. Refrigerate the breasts for 2 hours or overnight.
Saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper on a low flame for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and remaining package of sucre vanille on the apples and brown in 3 tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
Sear the magret de canard on the fat side first for 5 minutes, remove the accumulated fat, turn and cook on the other side for 8 minutes. Reheat the vinegar reduction, the apples and onions, slice the magret, drizzle with the reduction and serve.