Originally created 11/29/06

Duck is flavorful, healthful entree



New York City feasts on the bounty of the Hudson River Valley. When Washington Irving first brought this lush landscape to national attention in the early 1800s through his characters of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, the region was not yet known for the great delicacies and specialty foods it now provides.

Of all the products raised and grown in this bucolic region, one of the best known is duck, thanks in large part to the Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Duck Co. Perhaps that is why so many restaurants in the area offer duck breasts on their menu - or perhaps it is because duck breast tastes much like red meat but is a far leaner and healthier choice.

More supermarkets around the country have started carrying duck, thanks to increased awareness that all this great flavor comes in an easy-to-cook and wholesome food. As is true with any poultry, the majority of the fat is in the skin. Unlike chicken and turkey, however, when you remove the skin, the remaining duck meat still has plenty of rich, satisfying flavor.

Unlike other poultry breast, duck breast is often pink when thoroughly cooked. The Department of Agriculture recommends duck breast be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees to ensure harmful bacteria are killed, but many food professionals believe duck can be consumed when cooked to 135 to 140 degrees, at which point they prefer the flavor and texture.

HUDSON VALLEY DUCK BREAST WITH DRIED CHERRY SAUCE

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons cream (or more, to taste)

3 (7-ounce) boneless duck breasts

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees; coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine red wine, chicken broth, cherries, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly reduced. Reduce heat, add cream, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes longer. Keep warm over low heat. With the tip of a sharp knife, score the skin of duck breasts diagonally in two directions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high; add duck breasts skin side down and cook 4 minutes. Turn and cook 4 minutes longer or until browned on both sides. Transfer to prepared baking dish and finish cooking the duck in the oven for 10 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. Cut duck across into thin slices; fan on plate and top with sauce to serve.

Serves 4.

NUTRITION ANALYSIS: 420 calories, 19 grams fat, 38 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 490 milligrams sodium

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