Ich hatte mir dieses Rezept letztes Jahr ausgedacht, aber– oh wait, wrong language…
This one came to me last year, but I needed the right occasion to try it–cue Dani’s birthday. It’s no surprise that I’ve grown up with a lot of German influences, but that rarely makes its way into the stuff I cook (in fact, I think it’s only made it onto the blog a few times). Krustenbraten is usually made with pork shoulder, but that wouldn’t fit the event–so my mind instantly went to duck breast– and it was even better than I imagined.
First, a disclaimer: I never eat poultry that isn’t well done. When it comes to chicken, and turkey, there is a sweet spot of “doneness” that doesn’t dry out the meat– but anything less, and I hate the texture. Duck breast is on a different planet– it cooks a lot more like steak than poultry, and actually tastes better when cooked relatively quickly. Medium is still my limit, but at least I opened my mind a little.
Duck breast works for this technique because it has a lot of fat (ducks spend a lot of time in the water), so the skin can get really crispy. In traditional Krustenbraten, you score a lattice pattern into the skin and bake until the fat renders out. Here though, you’ll want to sear it instead. Slice the fat with a sharp knife, and season well with salt. I didn’t want to spices to burn, so I added caraway seeds, and cloves to the pan once the fat rendered out. That combination always reminds me of rye bread– and German food in general. Finish the pan with sage, and garlic, and flip the duck once the skin is crispy. You can cover the pan with foil to finish up the cooking on the stove– to whichever temperature you prefer.
What’s a better side for a German meal than Kohl und Pilze (cabbage and mushrooms)? Well, in this case– sprouts and mushrooms. Here, I just sliced everything thinly, roasted it, and added cranberries–nothing that special. Oh, but I did use some of the duck fat instead of oil or butter, so some of those flavors made it into the side dish as well. Dried cranberries and cider vinegar added a much needed hit of acid, and sweetness.
I finished everything with a Biersoße (beer sauce) made from the fond in the duck pan, and a brown ale. I added bay leaves, and a little dark chocolate powder to push the sauce over the edge.
2 Duck Breasts
4 Cups Brussels Sprouts, sliced thinly
2 Cups Mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 Tbs Dried Cranberries, minced
1/4 Tsp Orange Peel
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Leek, sliced thinly
3 Sprigs of Thyme
4 Sage Leaves
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Tsp Onion/Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp Caraway Seeds
1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 Tsp Sesame Seeds
1 Tsp Flour
1 Cup ,,Dunkles” (Brown Ale)
1 Tbs Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Place the duck breasts on a cutting board, and score the fat into a lattice pattern as shown above. Pat dry, then season with salt, then store in the fridge overnight with a handful of thyme, sage, and a fresh bay leaf. Set aside.
- Combine mustard, caraway, black pepper, sesame, and salt to a mortar, and grind into a powder. Add onion, orange peel, and garlic powder. Season the duck and let it rest on the counter for at least an hour before cooking.
- Place the meat fat-side-down in a heavy pot, and gradually raise the heat to render the fat (this will help crisp up the top layer. Once the top is seared, flip, and add herbs to pan, and baste. Remove all but 1 tbs of fat in the pan, cover with foil, and roast the duck for an additional ten minutes until medium.
- Roast the mushrooms, and brussels’ sprouts with a tbs of duck fat until crispy, then cool. Slice thinly, add cider vinegar, and toss with dried cranberries. Taste for seasoning.
- Return the duck pan to the stove, and remove the herb stems. Stir in one 1 tbs of flour, and garlic. Deglaze with beer when browned. Stir until an even sauce forms. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.
- Plate and serve.