Cooking Italian is a craftsman’s labour, the work of an Artisan of Flavour.
Today I take you back in time to the cookery of XV century Tuscany, to the Florence ruled by the Medici family, a city and time which have seen art and humanism flourishing to start an age of utter excellence in music, literature, theatre and scientific progress: the Renaissance.
This very classic Italian recipe has survived for centuries, almost without any change to the original, to become one of many’s favourite, in Italy and abroad. On another historical note, back in the 1400s duck would be referred as Papero (gander) rather than Anatra (duck), as the first was more in vogue in the language (and kitchens) of the time.
Those reading from the UK and those in love with beer will be happy to know that, other than wine, a good Ale is also a perfect marriage. I would advise against a lager though.
Ready in: 45m
Ingredients to serve two people
. Duck Breasts (2)
. Oranges (2)
. Black ground gepper
. Bay leaves
. White wine (1 glass)
Melt some butter (around 10-15g) in a pen and on a medium to high heat sear both sides of the breast for a minute or two. Do not remove the skin as some of the fat in the skin will melt and contribute to the flavour.
Take down the heat to medium and add a glass of white wine and a couple of bay leaves to the pen. Cook the breast on both sides for another couple of minutes than add a small glass of hot water and the juice of two oranges. Grind some black pepper, cover with a lid and keep cooking on a low to medium heat.
Cut one of the oranges you have used for the juice and add the pieces to your pen; this will strengthen the orange flavour so decide on quantities according to your personal taste. Leave cooking for around 25-30 minutes, either in the pen or moving all your content to a pot, where the breasts will be immersed completely in the juice with less risk for the meat to dry out. Duck has to be very tender to be the most pleasant.
Serving tips: Duck comes along very well with vegetables with strong flavour. In this particular instance I have chosen roasted potatoes and tomato gratin (pomodori gratinati) as my sides. Some good strong bread is also a must.