Duck Breasts with Toasted Spice Butter and Wild Mushroom Risotto

Duck Breasts with Toasted Spice Butter and Mushroom Risotto is a hearty winter dish that looks pretty good right now during a rainy, cold mid-April Sunday.

Duck Breasts with Toasted Spice Butter and Mushroom Risotto
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of, March 2018)

Serves 4

2 large skin-on duck breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Toasted Spice Butter (see recipe below)
Wild Mushroom Risotto (see recipe below)

Using a sharp knife, score duck skin at 1/4-inch intervals. Heat a large skillet over high. Add duck breasts skin side down and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook, removing fat from the skillet at it accumulates, until skin is deeply golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. (Reserve fat for another use.) Flip the duck breasts and cook to desired degree of doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer duck breasts to cutting board skin-side up and let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice duck against the grain about 1/2-inch thick. Using a hand grater grate some of the Toasted Spice Butter over the duck, allowing the butter to melt into the meat. Divide among serving plates and top with additional butter before serving.

Toasted Spice Butter

1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp kosher salt

Toast spices in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Allow spices to cool and then grind to fine powder. Add salt and combine. Mash the ground spice mixture into the butter. Roll into plastic wrap and freeze until firm.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
5 cups vegetable stock, warmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. mixed wild mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced
1 tsp dried thyme flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer and maintain the simmer on low heat.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until is shimmers. Add the garlic and saute until softened, about 1 minute. All of the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

In the Dutch oven with the mushroom liquid, add the butter and the shallots and saute over medium heat until the shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir over medium heat until each grain is translucent with a white dot in the center, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.

Add simmering stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until the stock almost completely absorbed before adding the next ladleful.

When the rice is almost tender to the bite yet still firm in the center and looks creamy, add the mushrooms with the next ladleful of stock. Cook stirring regularly until the mushrooms are warmed through and the rice is al dente. Remove from the heat, stir in the grated parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and serve at once.

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