Advice on cooking skinless duck breasts - and pheasant
I'm defrosting some skinless duck breasts that my husband brought back after a day shooting. I've gone through all of my cookbooks and they all deal with duck breasts with the skin still on. Any ideas? I'm worried they'll dry out, though I realize that duck meat is fatty.
Also have some pheasant frozen - what look like breasts - any thoughts on that would also be appreciated.
Having been raised by a hunter, I've been plucking ducks since I was three. (seriously... we have the picture...)
The simplest translation of common or domestic duck recipes to wild ones, is to shorten the cooking time, or add the duck in later than they suggest. Wild game is really lean, and it doesn't take much to overcook it.
The current favorite recipe for duck breasts in my family (any size) is to salt and pepper both sides (no skin), and pan sear with a tiny bit of oil. Just a few minutes on each side. Most recipes for domestic then recommend putting it in the oven to finish off. Skip this step. They have so much flavor that they don't need much else (although you could do a sauce or chutney to go along with).
When I roast free-range pheasant, I salt and pepper the pheasant well, rub some butter on the skin, place about 1/2 slice of bacon on the breast and 1/4 slice of bacon on each of the thighs. I roast, I believe, at 350 degrees maybe 30 minutes, maybe 45 minutes? My pheasant is not dried out. It seems that some similar treatment could be employed with your pheasant breasts. In my case most of the meat comes off of the breasts. I'm not sure I get anything from the thighs. It has been awhile since I roasted one of these.
In my case I like to serve the carved pheasant with braised sour kraut and Boars Head weiners, following a recipe in Pierre Gaertner's "The Cuisine of Alsace" titled Faisans a l'Alsacienne, or something like that. Don't think sharp, acidic kraut, think unctuously rich, mildly smokey, gently bright choucroute that is produced by careful braising. Other pheasant breast productions are known, of course.