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Seared Duck Breast With Hibiscus Flower And Orange Sauce

Seared Duck Breast With Hibiscus Flower And Orange Sauce
Patricia Jinich for NPR /

For a class I taught on modern Mexican cuisine, my sister Alisa Romano, a wonderful chef who lives in Miami, helped me tweak this sauce through a number of versions. I served the duck on top of sauteed spinach sprinkled with pine nuts and black bean with goat cheese tamales. It also goes very well with steamed asparagus and wild rice, or try it over venison, grilled rack of lamb or quail. For vegetarians, it should work nicely over grilled portobello mushrooms and can be made with vegetable instead of chicken broth.

Makes 6 servings


4 cups jamaica/hibiscus flower concentrate

2 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought

Rind of an orange

1 bay leaf

3 whole cloves

5 black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches (use Ceylon or true cinnamon if you can)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Pour concentrate and broth into a medium-sized heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and add the orange rind, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, vinegar and salt. Simmer at medium-high heat for about 35 minutes.

Bring heat down to medium-low, as the sauce will have reduced considerably and will be simmering too strongly. Keep on a low simmer until the sauce achieves a thick, syrupy consistency, about 10 more minutes. Don't let it thicken too much, as the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove the spices using a slotted spoon or strainer, and reserve in a container.

If you are not going to use it in the next couple of hours, or you made more than you need, let it cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat before using.

Duck Breasts

6 duck breasts, 6 to 8 ounces each, with skin

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste

Thoroughly rinse the duck breasts under a thin stream of cold water and pat dry. Make 6 to 8 diagonal cuts through the skin of each breast, being careful not to cut through the meat. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is hot but not smoking, place the duck breasts skin-side down and sear for 6 to 7 minutes, until the skin is brown and crisp, and most of the fat melts and turns into liquid.

Move the breasts, skin-side up, to an ovenproof dish or pan. Place in the oven for 5 to 9 minutes, depending on how rare you like your meat: about 5 minutes for quite rare and about 8 to have a nice pink center.

Remove the breasts from the oven and let them sit for a couple of minutes before slicing. Slice diagonally along already marked skin. Drizzle jamaica and orange sauce on top.

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