I got a chance to chat with Asian superstar chef Ming Tsai and ask him about his holiday plans – he’s preparing a slow roasted lamb for his family and gave me some tips for my Christmukkah meal. I’m making Ming’s Seared Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney from his self-published book called Ming’s Master Recipes. I tested the recipe, and holy holiday cheer, it was fabulous!
Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney Recipe
My parents are Buddhists but they’ve lived here in the United States since 1967 and have celebrated Christmas with food and presents every single year. When my brother and I were little, we believed in Santa Claus until the day I found my mother’s secret hiding place for gifts. I didn’t let on that I knew about the stash, as I totally enjoyed sneaking into the walk-in closet and wading my way through the piles of clothes, blankets and luggage to get to the booty in the back.
I’d just stare at the blonde Cabbage Patch Kid and Barbie doll convertible, caressing the box and counting down the days til Christmas Eve. So yeah, Christmas more about new toys back then and not so much the religious stuff.
At home, I’d like to think we have a nice blend of traditions. For many years, I hosted Christmukkah, as my good friends are Jewish, but the Chinese take-out places are closed for Christmas! This year I went with Ming’s advice for the Christmukkah meal: a Seared Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney.
Ming says the key to searing duck breast is to render, or melt away the fat first. This savory, delicious fat is used to cook the duck and also saute the potatoes. The Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney is the perfect blend of Ming’s signature east and west cooking.
Why Ming Tsai’s Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney Works
- Perfect Fat Rendering Technique: The key to this recipe’s success is the slow rendering of the duck fat. Starting the duck breasts skin-side down on low heat allows the fat to gradually melt, ensuring a crispy, browned skin without overcooking the meat. This technique not only enhances the texture but also infuses the duck with its own rich flavors.
- Balanced Flavors: The sweet and sour cranberry chutney brings a delightful contrast to the savory duck. The tartness of the cranberries paired with the sweetness of the sugar and the sharpness of the rice vinegar creates a harmonious balance that complements the richness of the duck, embodying Ming’s signature East-meets-West culinary style.
- Versatility of the Chutney: This chutney isn’t just limited to accompanying the duck; its versatility makes it a perfect condiment for various dishes. It can be used as a spread for sandwiches, a topping for grilled meats, or even as a unique addition to cheese boards, making it a valuable recipe in your cooking repertoire.
A Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney Recipe FAQ
- What can I substitute for rice vinegar in the chutney?
Apple cider vinegar is a great alternative. It offers a similar tangy flavor profile.
- Can the cranberry chutney be made ahead of time?
Absolutely! The chutney can be made up to two weeks in advance and stored in the refrigerator. This actually allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.
- What are some side dishes that pair well with this meal?
Light and simple sides like steamed green beans, a fresh salad, or roasted root vegetables complement the rich flavors of the duck and the tangy chutney nicely.
- How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftover duck and chutney separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They should keep well for up to three days. Reheat the duck gently to avoid drying it out.
- Can the chutney be frozen for later use?
Yes, the chutney freezes well. Place it in a freezer-safe container, leaving some space at the top for expansion. It can be stored for up to three months.
- What can I do with leftover chutney?
Use it as a spread on sandwiches, with cheese and crackers, or as a topping for other grilled or roasted meats. It’s quite versatile!
Perfect Pairings: Side Dishes for Duck Breast
- The Very Best Mashed Potatoes
- Chinese Broccoli with Garlicky Ginger Miso
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry Pistachio Pesto
- Miso Ginger Asparagus
Duck Breast with Sweet & Sour Cranberry Chutney
- 4 duck breasts fat trimmed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 Yukon gold potatoes either boiled or baked skin on 45 minutes at 350F
Sweet & Sour Cranberry Chutney
- 1 red onion cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 1 cup dried cranberries chopped
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Use a sharp knife to score the skin on the duck breast several times, making 3-5 slashes on the diagonal then rotating knife to slash the other way, to make a slanted checkerboard of sorts. Score all the way through the fat, but take care not to cut through to the meat.
- Place the duck breasts, skin side down in a large frying pan and then heat the frying pan on low heat. As the pan heats up, the fat will begin melting (rendering). Let fry until the skin is brown and crispy, about 7-10 minutes.
- Turn the heat to high and flip the duck meat side down. Fry for 3-5 minutes for medium rare.
- Flip the duck breasts again and sear for 3-5 minutes to re-crisp the skin. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Transfer to a plate, meat side down and let rest. In the same pan, with the luscious duck fat, turn the heat to high and add the potato slices. Serve with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney.
Sweet & Sour Cranberry Chutney
- Heat a sauté pan over high heat. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cranberries, sugar and the rice vinegar.
- Simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. When cool, transfer to container and cover, store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.