Moulard Breast with Spring Cherries, Sweet Peas and Yukon Duck Fat Fries
I went to the market today in search of duck and came home with an eye of beef round with which to make bresaola. Yes, bresaola. The Italian cured meat. Yes, it takes more than a month to make. Yes, there are bacterial dangers. Yes, I will have to convert my old wine fridge to the tune of some extra cashola for humidifiers, temperature controllers and fans. Yes, I am singlemindedly obsessed. But hey, at least I remembered the duck breast!
After I pored over bresaola recipes and whiled away the afternoon, I realized I needed to do something with my duck. Thank god for local produce and springtime! This recipe practically made itself. I tossed salted, peppered and garlic powdered breasts into the sous vide at 140° for two hours while I threw together the rest of the plate. The cherries have begun to bless us with their sanguine flesh here in Washington (can you believe it?) and what a season it promises to be. I bought a pricy pound but ate half of them on the way home they were so shazaam succulent. I made a simple sauce from what I had left, simmering them with some vino dolce, adding a touch of broth, and finishing with freshly shelled peas just before I plated the dish.
If you’re as big a fan of duck as I am, you’ll probably agree that there is no better accompaniment than potatoes fried in the rendered duck fat. These fries were especially unctuous because I added some caramelized onions to the fat as well, making for a side dish robust enough to stand up to the duck. Both the duck and the fries benefit hugely from the addition of my favorite thing on earth. NO, I didn’t toss a pair of Manolo Blahniks into the fryer, people, jeesh! I’m talking about SALT, not SHOES, but you’re right, maybe we’ll call them neck and neck vying for the “number one favorite thing” position in my heart. And yes, I know I have the best baby on earth, Bentley Danger, but he doesn’t count because he’s a person not a thing. Eeenyways, back to adding shoes to duck and fries. I mean salt.
You probably know by now that I love to make salt myself. You may also know that my salt obsession was borne from my husband’s annoyance with me insisting on getting a new pair of shoes in every country we visit. I figured he’d be more amenable to salt instead, because it’s lighter on the luggage and on the pocketbook, which I think was his real beef. I used several different salts in the making of this dish because different salts perform differently in different applications. For the rapid brine (only rapid because I didn’t leave myself enough time) of the breast, I used plain old kosher salt. For the salt rub on the breasts in the sous vide bath I used Portugese flor de Sal from Marx Foods. I tossed the fries with a bit of my own salt since I love it as a finishing salt on something hot for the way it melts. I even added a little Maldon salt to the top of the cherry sauce since the little pyramids look so lovely and it helps balance the sweet flavor.
Who knew you could employ four salts in one meal and truly justify different uses for all? I’m extra saline-sensitive right now because I’m hosting a salt-tasting soiree soon wherein my guests will be subject to a blind tasting of the salts of the world. Do you have a favorite salt? One you can’t live without that is your go-to kitchen staple? If so let me know in the comments section of this post. I want to be sure to have a varied representation and not miss anyone’s nearest and dearest.