The duck breast is, for me, one of those almost sacred dishes, in front of which I bow, I raise a glass of wine, and I declare myself happy. So whenever I feel the need for something special for dinner, I go for the duck magret. I came across this duck breast by chance, one evening when I was shopping without any specific plans in mind. Most of the time, I’m very freestyle, allowing myself to be inspired by whatever ingredients I stumble upon, and the moment I found this duck breast I knew right away it was going to be a special dinner – even if there was no special occasion to celebrate. But perhaps the joy of life, I told myself, lies precisely in making every day a celebration. So that’s what I did.
I found out about kumquats during a Summer holiday spent on Corfu Island. They were not in season when I was there, but I had the chance to buy so many other products based on kumquats and fell in love with their perfume. Time after, I did find them in Bucharest as well, courtesy of globalization, so when I brought home the duck breast, I immediately made the connection with the kumquats I had bought earlier. I quickly adapted the idea of a classic duck à l’orange to what I had in hand and I don’t know if it was my mood or the kumquats, but the plate that came out was one to remember.
The recipe itself is not complicated at all, and I was happy this time I even managed to snap a few pictures of the dish before it quickly vanished.
I started with the kumquat sauce, as it required the most time to cook. Kumquats are tender and can be eaten without peeling, so I cut them into slices and put them in a saucepan with the juice of an orange, brown sugar and star anise, then I left it on low heat to reduce. I cut the potatoes in half and cooked them in boiling salted water. I then proceeded to cook the duck breast in a well-heated pan, skin side down first, until crispy, and then on the other side as well. No oil or butter is needed — at all, the duck breast is fat enough by itself and during the cooking process, it will release its fat, which can be used successfully for something else.
I used it to sauté the parboiled new potatoes while the duck breast went into the preheated oven (depending on the size, I let it sit there for 6 to 8 minutes). Meanwhile, the sauce was also ready so there was nothing else to do except the final preparations, plating and serving. I bowed, I raised a glass of wine, and I declared myself happy.