We like to cook. When we host a guest for dinner, there is sometimes an unspoken competition among Vanessa, Nick and myself for who will cook what dish (and which appeared to please the guests the most, of course). Vanessa cooks refined, multi-step dishes adapted from cookbooks intended for testing coffee table strength not for instruction. I tend to use the grill or the long braise method for meat dishes and like my vegetables crunchy. Nick is the dessert specialist who cooks Asian and has a slew of dishes in his arsenal that he whips up at a moment’s notice. Duck is Nick’s forte. He not only makes his own duck confit (see recipe online from a previous newsletter), but he also knows how to prepare it in all its glorious, pinot-friendly, manifestations. This is a very quick and simple dish that always satisfies.


1/4 cup grated ginger
1 clove
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup red wine
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 magrets of duck, about 12 ounces each. Magret is the breast of a Moulard which is famed for its fat liver. Moulard are sterile and their parentage are Muscovy (above) and Pekin ducks.


1. To make the marinade, combine the ginger, clove, vanilla bean and wine in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the minced shallots. Set aside until cool. Place the duck breasts in a large bowl. Add the cool marinade. Cover. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours, turning once. Remove duck, strain marinade and save.

2. Heat 1 TBS high oleic canola oil or duck fat in a cast-iron skillet. Add the duck, fat side down, and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the duck over and cook about 2 more minutes. Remove the duck and set aside. Pour off fat from the pan (into a heat tolerant vessel). Pour the marinade into the pan. Simmer over high heat, scraping the brown bits off the bottom, until reduced by 1/2.

3. Slice ¼” slices across each breast, fan out over polenta and top with the pan sauce. We recommend you try Anson Mills’ Artisan fine polenta from South Carolina. You can find Anson Mills products at gourmet stores or at

More Recipes >

Recent Recipes