Happy New Year 2013!
On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated the last day of the year with a few Spanish tapas. My favorite was made with quince paste, Manchego cheese, and Marcona almonds. I had never cooked with quince before, and it really intrigued me! If you’ve never had it, I would describe it as a cross between a pear and an apple, but it needs to be cooked to bring out its sweetness. I love to explore ingredients I have never tried before. It keeps the kitchen fun and interesting.
I stayed with the quince theme for our New Year’s Day dinner. A new fruit for a new year seemed fitting! We had Five Spice Duck Breasts with Caramelized Quince to kick off 2013. I followed the recipe from Cooking Light magazine pretty closely except that I cut the sugar in the poached quinces quite a bit. Other than that, we thought it was a really exceptional recipe!
Based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine
2 cups water
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 (1-inch) julienne-cut lemon rind
2 cored peeled quinces, quartered
Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a sauce pan, and cook 2 minutes. Add quinces; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Remove quinces from liquid with a slotted spoon. Strain liquid through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour liquid over quinces.
Five Spice Duck Breasts with Caramelized Quince
Poached Quinces from recipe above
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (12-ounce) packages boneless whole duck breasts, thawed and cut in half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions
Reserve 3/4 cup poaching liquid from Poached Quinces. Reserve remaining liquid for another use. Cut the quince quarters into cubes; set aside.
Combine 1/2 cup reserved poaching liquid, five-spice powder, ginger, and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add duck to bag; seal and toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator at least 24 hours or up to 2 days, turning bag occasionally.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Remove duck from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle duck evenly with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Place duck, skin side down, in pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Turn meat over; cook 1 minute. Place pan in oven. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° (medium) or until desired degree of doneness. Remove duck from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Place duck, skin side down, on a cutting board or work surface. Brush meaty side of duck with remaining 1/4 cup poaching liquid.
Heat reserved drippings in pan over medium-high heat. Add cubed quince quarters; sauté 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in sliced green onions.
Remove skin from duck; discard. Cut duck diagonally across grain into thin slices. Divide duck slices evenly among each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1/4 cup quince mixture. Serve immediately.
PS. The leftover quince syrup was a nice addition to a glass of sparkling wine to ring in the new year :).
PPS. The festive little paper hats were free to download and print from http://www.ellinee.com. Super cute!