Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Basil Duck

...or how I got my mojo back.

We at Minxeats are crazy about the dish Basil Duck served at a restaurant in northern Virginia called Thai Luang. It's crispy, spicy, basil-y deliciousness, and probably not something easily created at home. But I'd be happy with a semi-reasonable fascimile.

I realized there were two duck breast portions in the freezer and took them out to thaw on Saturday morning for Sunday's dinner - A Semi-Reasonable Fascimile of Basil Duck a La Minx. I had a jar of Maesri "chilli paste with basil leaves" in the fridge, some Thai basil freshly planted in our porch garden and was feeling adventurous. And successful.


In addition to the duck, I made coconut rice by adding a tablespoonful of dried coconut milk powder to the raw rice in the cooker and garnishing it with crushed cashews once plated. For a veg, I served a ragout of haricots verts with caramelized onions; it served as a bed for the duck. Our beverage was a Thai Iced Tini made with Thai iced tea concentrate, vodka, and milk (1:2:2 or to taste).

I gotta say - it was FABULOUS. The duck was perfectly cooked - all fat rendered, skin still sorta crispy, and the meat was tender. The sweet onions helped to balance the heat of the chile sauce, and the rice was a nice, mostly-neutral foil for everything. There were lots of great flavors and textures and the smell was heavenly.


A Semi-Reasonable Fascimile of Basil Duck a La Minx
2 duck breasts, boned, skin scored in a crisscross pattern, dried thoroughly and generously salted and peppered on both sides

Sauce
1 heaping tablespoon Maesri chilli paste with basil leaves
1 teaspoon of honey
scant teaspoon dried coconut milk powder
1 tablespoon water

Garnish
10-12 Thai basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat an ovenproof sauté pan on top of the stove on high heat. Add duck breasts, skin side down, and cook 8-10 minutes until skin is crisped and brown. Pour off rendered fat, flip breasts skin side up, and place into oven. Roast for 12 - 15 minutes for medium. Remove from oven and put on cutting board to rest while you make the sauce.

Remove any remaining fat from pan. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl, add to sauté pan and warm gently, adding any duck juices that collect on cutting board. Taste a bit - if too spicy, add a little more honey. There should only be a couple of tablespoons of sauce.

Haricots Verts and Onion

1/2 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
large handful of haricots verts, fresh or frozen (I used Trader Joe's frozen French style beans)
1 tblsp butter
salt and pepper

Cook onion in butter over medium heat until soft, golden brown, and caramelized. Add beans and cook until they are limp. Unless you prefer crunchy beans, which I don't.

To serve:
Plate rice, top with cashews. Plate a long narrow pile of beans 'n' onions. Slice duck breast and put pieces on top of onions. Nap with a tablespoon of sauce and garnish with basil chiffonade.

Serves 2. Enjoy!