Classic preparations for chicken and duck include these two recipes: Poulet Sauté Chasseur (Sautéed Chicken, Hunter Style) and Suprême de Caneton Sauté et Cuisse Braisée à l’Orange (Sautéed Breast and Braised Leg of Ducking with Orange Sauce).
Last night’s class was very informative – we learned how to clean and quarter a chicken and a duck and how to make an enriched stock to complement a sauce. Now I’ve quartered a chicken before but every Chef has his own way of doing it and we had to learn this particular method. Once our poultry was quartered and trimmed we started on the Poulet Sauté Chasseur which required an enriched stock. We sautéed the chicken carcass, neck and wings, added our mire poix (carrots and onions) and deglazed the pan with some brown stock before adding the rest. Once we deglazed the sucs (brown caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the sauté pan) we added the remaing brown stock a bouquet garni (sprig of thyme, a few peppercorns, clove of garlic, parsley stems, & bay leaf) and let the enriched stock simmer for about 45 minutes degreasing the top every so often.
Next we shifted gears and started to work on braising our duck legs since this was our dinner and required a longer cooking time. Cooking a whole duck can be tricky since the legs and the breast cook differently. This recipe calls for the legs to be braised and the duck breast to be sautéed separately and then plated together.
A few facts about ducks:
Most ducks that are commercially available today are varieties of Pekin ducks that were brought over by the Chinese in the 1800s. At one time over 60 percent of the ducks available in the U.S. where farmed on Long Island hence the term Long Island duck but times have changed and now less than 10 percent of ducks come from Long Island. Ducklings refer to young ducks (caneton) mature older ducks are refered to as canard.
Mallards are seasonably available wild or farm-raised but are very limited. Mullard is a crossbreed of a male Muscovy and a female Pekin and the breast meat from this duck is referred to as a magret. Muscovy ducks come from South America and can be sautéed, roasted, braised and used in confit. These ducks are also used to make foie gras.
On to the next recipe – we sautéed the duck legs to achieve a golden crispy color on the skin (sauté skin side down first). Remove legs and then sauté the carcass, wings and trimmings add mire poix and bouquet garni, return the legs and add brown stock to come up about half way. We covered the sautoir (large round pan with straight sides) with parchment that fit inside the sautoir then covered that with a lid – off to the convection oven to cook for about 40 minutes at 325 degrees.
The sauce had many components including a gastrique (caramelized sugar and vinegar), freshly squeezed orange juice, blanched julienned orange zest soaked in orange liqueur and the braising liquid from the duck legs.
The duck breasts were sautéed skin side down (the skin was scored so the underlying fat would render) remove the rendered fat so the duck breasts cook in a moderately dry sauté pan. Use a thermometer 125 degrees for rare, 130 degrees for medium rare and 135 degrees for medium – don’t over cook the meat it will be tough. Ducks do not carry salmonella so this is why we can eat this rare so enjoy!
Once the sauce was complete we plated our dish, cut the breasts in aiguillettes (slices) garnished with orange segments, we cooked the duck liver and plated that next to the breast and finally the braised leg – the rich sauce pooled at the bottom of the dish and it was ready for Chef to judge. We obtained great color on our duck breast, the sauce needed to be reduced a little more but overall a good job.
Back to chicken, we sautéed the breast on the bone and the legs/thighs together, removed them from the pan finished them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Now the sauce was the shining star here, sautéed shallots, mushrooms in clarified butter, then flambéed with brandy, white wine, concassé tomatoes, herbs, and the strained enriched stock we had simmering for 45 minutes – resulted in a rich, deeply flavored sauce that was plated with the crisp chicken on top. Now the Italians make a similar dish called Chicken Cacciatore – I have to admit the French version was outstanding and relatively simple to make – hands down a winner!