Fast Fashion | Five-Spice Duck

This meal is simple enough for a weeknight, but also sexy enough for a date night.

Just like a good pair of skinny black pants.

Duck turns out to cost about as much as a good piece of grass-fed beef.  But somehow it seems altogether fresh and new for a weeknight meal.  Toss in some bulk wild rice and some handfuls of baby spinach and you’ve got yourself something that despite it’s cheap and cheerful cost, almost poses as downright elegant.

Think of it as the H&M of meals.  Fast fashion at the dinner table.

The duck is spiced simply with salt and pepper and a generous amount of Chinese five spice.  Now before you go writing that off with “oh I can’t find that stuff,” know that in addition to you being able to easily grab a bit a your finer spice stores, you can also pick up a jar at your local grocery store because even McCormick’s makes it.  Pan sear the duck, then drain (and save for oh so delicious potatoes) the fat that’s rendered off, then in the same pan wilt down your spinach that you douse with a bit of apple cider vinegar and a generous pinch of sugar.  The wild rice, while it takes 45 minutes to cook, can easily be made ahead of time.  Or you can unwind with some Jesse Ware and a cocktail while that simmers.

I always opt for the second.

Timing is, as it turns out – in fashion and the kitchen – is everything.

Chinese Five-Spiced Duck. Wild Rice Salad. Warm Spinach.  For Two.

For the Wild Rice Salad

8 oz wild rice blend

18 oz water

About 6 oz of mixed dried fruit and nuts (I use raisins, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds.  Many stores have a bulk section where you can “design your own” trail mix.  It’s the perfect section to gather ingredients to make this salad your own.)

Rinse rice and combine with water in a medium pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for approximately 45 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender.  Remove from pan to a plate to cool slightly.

Toss with a vinaigrette (4 T olive oil, 1 T balsamic, t mustard, t brown sugar or honey, 1/2 t anchovy paste {don’t say yuck, add it, it won’t taste like fish}, salt and pepper to taste) and your motley mix of fruits and nuts and seeds.  If you’ve got some fresh rosemary, chop some of that in there, I happen to know this tastes fantastic.  Mix well.  Set aside.

When your rice has around 20 minutes left, start the duck.

For the Duck

1/2 duck breast (about a pound), bone removed, skin on, trimmed of any excess fat

1/2 t Chinese five-spice

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In an oven safe pan over medium high heat, add the duck, that has been seasoned on both sides with salt, pepper and the five-spice, skin side down.   Cook for 4 minutes without turning, until the fat is nicely browned.  Flip.  Sear for another 4 minutes.  Turn the duck breast back over and slide into the oven for 9-10 minutes, or until it’s medium rare, springy and feels like this.  When it’s done, allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes while you finish the spinach.

For the Spinach

10 oz baby spinach

Apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper

In the same pan that the duck cooked in, pour off all the fat (and save it!! for potatoes!! for anything!!).  Return the pan to a low heat and toss in the spinach, a small splash of vinegar, a generous pinch of sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all those good duck-y bits of the bottom and onto your spinach.  Cook for a few minutes, or just until the spinach is wilted down and the vinegar is mostly, if not all the way evaporated.

To serve

Distribute the spinach between two plates, mound some of the rice salad on top of each and layer the sliced duck breast on top.

I like a white with my duck.  I know.  Pairs beautifully with EVOLucio’s Furmint from the Tokaj region of Hungary.  Think floral Sauv Blanc from Eastern Europe.  Locally available at House Wine.

Playlist included Sweet Talk, by Jesse Ware.



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