by John Manikowski
The recommended cooking time for duck breasts is for medium-rare. You may add to or reduce the time, depending upon your preference. Many old-timers prefer their wild duck meat blood-rare. Serve with wild rice and a spinach salad with orange slices, apples and black olives.
Soak the dried mushrooms in sherry for about 30 minutes.
Crush pistachios with a mortar and pestle or grind in a small, clean coffee grinder until finely pulverized. Cut the figs into halves and flatten. with your thumb or the back of a spoon, firmly press the pistachios into the meaty part of the figs.
Heat the butter in a heavy, large skillet over medium-low heat and lay in the figs. Sauté the encrusted figs for only about 30 seconds on both sides until the nuts are browned. Remove quickly and set aside.
In the same pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the duck breasts 6-8 minutes, uncovered. Turn duck breasts over, add the morels with the sherry, brandy (if using) and stock. Simmer for 6-8 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove pan from stove and set the figs into the pan to warm.
Transfer the breasts to a wooden platter and slice thinly. Fan 1/2 breast per person over a mound of wild rice and divide the morels and figs equally among each plate. Scrape any remaining browned bits and juices from the pan onto the meat.
A slightly tannic Bordeaux from Chateau Cheret-Pitres (from the Graves region) is a moderately priced red. Somewhat lean but some cherry flavors and a light earthiness makes this type of Bordeaux a good match with duck breast. I had the 1993 and this wine should hold up well enough through 1997-98.
The Chateau Larose-Trintaudon, an Haut Medoc would serve duck breast well. The 1990 would be a first choice but is nearly gone, however the 1993 or 1994 would also be fine.
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