Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The regional Provençale dish of magret de canard

Our first night in the kitchen! I was so excited :) Our teacher was Hermann Jenny, in the middle in the photo below. He and his wife Susan own Les Tuillères. He is a trained professional chef who has managed several luxury restaurants in Europe and Asia. I knew that S and I were going to learn a lot, and over the next week we did — not just about cooking and eating, but also techniques, the agricultural roots of Provence, and the philosophical side of food and wine appreciation.

Finding out that we were going to make magret de canard in our first class was a very nice surprise. We had only been in Provence two nights and had already seen this dish on two different menus, stuffed with chèvre at La Fontaine Minérale, and with honey, peaches and pears at Les Voyageurs.

Hermann's is a tender, pan-roasted version marinated in red wine, soy sauce and Dijon mustard. He showed us how to trim the excess duck fat and score what remained. We also learned that if you double a quantity of meat, you only need to increase the marinade by 50 per cent. The final dish is served with a creamy mashed potato and drizzled over with a rich, flavoursome sauce that looks like purple velvet. So beautifully unctuous, as Nigella Lawson might say ;)

There were four people taking cooking classes, S and I and two French people. We were all raised our eyebrows when Hermann told us we would be cooking for 18 that night — I thought we'd just cook for ourselves, but no, you cook for every guest paying for the table d'hôte!

We made a five-course meal, and ate it outside on a big, long table in Les Tuillères' beautiful courtyard. On the menu was aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise that the Provençales use as a dipping sauce with blanched vegetables, an eggplant risotto as an entrée (the first course), magret de canard and mashed potato, a plate full of local cheeses, and dessert, a fig and apple crumble that we made with fresh fruit from the garden.

Hermann and Susan are kindly letting me publish a few recipes to share with beFOODled readers, so without further ado, here is how to make magret de canard à la Les Tuillières (already taste-tested and heartily approved of by some discerning girlfriends in Ottawa).

Duck breast (magret de canard) with herbs
serves four

2 duck breasts, 12 oz. each
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper

2/3 cup red wine
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, roughly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly sliced
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
freshly ground pepper

Prepare the marinade and trim the duck breasts of excess fat. Marinate the duck for one to two hours in the fridge.

Set the duck aside and reduce the marinade by half in a saucepan. Brown the duck breasts in a separate sauce pan — about seven minutes with the fat side down, and three on the meat side.

Remove the duck and keep it warm on a covered plate.

Return the pan to the heat and add the reduced and strained marinade. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Season, take of the heat and add the butter cubes.

Serve alongside mashed potatoes with sauce drizzled over. You will love this!


Our Juicy Life said...

Hi - just found your blog - because I searched for reciped for Magret de canard. my husband and I just moved to france from Los Angeles and I'm making duck and I'm trying the recipe that you did in Provence. I'm sure it will be trés bon!

asha said...

Hi Juicy, I checked out your blog and what I would give to spend a whole year in France! Lucky you. I hope you enjoy the duck! Let me know how it turns out.

figtree said...

Just found your blog, I have been emailing Susan all week, we are planning a visit in June..your post gets me very excited to go..what a feast you prepared!

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