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Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cèpes

Updated: Oct 11, 2020

My wife is from Bordeaux,France. Bordeaux is situated in southwestern France (about a three hour drive north of Spain on the Atlantic coast). This region -- which also borders the Basque Country -- is known primarily for its wine (among the most prestigious and long lasting cabernet sauvignons and merlot in the world) but is also a culinary delight. Among other things, this region is known for its duck, foie gras, truffles from Sarlat, oysters from Arcachon Bay, and cèpes from the surrounding forests. Cèpes, especially fresh, are a great meat replacement and very flexible. They have a luscious texture with deep earthy and nutty flavors. They can be used in pasta, risottos, omelets, or as a special side to poultry, lamb, duck, beef, or fish.

Pan seared duck breast (cooked rare) and cèpes -- referred to in America by their Italian name, porcini -- is classic Bordeaux dish. Here, the duck breast is from Liberty Farms in Petaluma and is seasoned with Himalayan pink salt, fresh ground pepper, paprika, coriander, and cinnamon. The skin retains its crispness by rendering the fat. Unfortunately, fresh cèpes are hard to find. More commonly, as in this dish, they are dried. To prepare the dried variety, place them in a pot of salted simmering water (just before before boiling) for about 20 minutes until they are soft. Then drain and place in a hot skillet with olive oil, fresh garlic, and parsley. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sauté for 2 minutes until it starts to char on the outside, but don't wait too long or they will be dry. Then remove from skillet and transfer to the serving plate. This dish is screaming for a glass of rich Napa Cabernet or Left-Bank Bordeaux!

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