Duck with Apple and Cherry Sauce
The meaty breasts of moulard ducks work best in this recipe.
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. butter
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored,
and coarsely chopped
2 cups red wine
2 lbs. fresh cherries (about 4 cups), pitted
Pinch ground cinnamon
4 whole cloves
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1-lb. boned moulard duck breast halves
1. Melt sugar in 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Increase heat to medium-high, add apples, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned, about 8 minutes. Add red wine and reduce for 4 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add 1 cup water, 3 cups cherries, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Crush cherries with a wooden spoon, then simmer mixture until liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes.
2. Strain sauce through a fine sieve, then return to skillet. Add remaining cherries and simmer over medium heat until sauce has reduced by a third, about 8 minutes more. Set sauce aside and keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, score duck breasts by making crosshatch incisions through fat, then season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Add duck breasts, fat side down, and cook until fat is rendered and skin is crisp, about 12 minutes. Turn and continue cooking for 6–8 minutes more. (It is best to pour off excess fat midway through the cooking process; fat can be strained, stored in a sealed container, and reused 2–3 times to fry potatoes, mushrooms, or oeufs farcis ŕ la périgourdine; see Oeufs Farcis ŕ la Périgourdine recipe.)
4. Whisk remaining 1 tbsp. butter into sauce. Thinly slice duck, then divide between 4 plates. Spoon sauce over duck and serve.