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May 15, 2008 07:38 PM

A Duck Recipe that I don't understand - Some help would be great

I am making duck this weekend and I found a recipe that looks great. It can be found here along with the picture:

One part of the recipe I don't understand. It reads:

"Trim the breasts and score outer fat with a very sharp knife.
Open the breasts and stuff with sliced smoked duck breast,
cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
Roll up the breasts, making sure the filling does not seep out,
and secure with toothpicks."

Two issues come from this for me:

1) The part I am not getting is the "open up the duck breast". When I read this, I am assuming I am going to have to cut the breast in someway to open it up - not simply open up the package. But I am not sure what that cut would be exactly - it does not make sense to butterfly it and I am not really sure what to do.

2) The other part I am puzzled/worried by is the direction to roll up the duck breast. I have never done that before, and my recollection of duck is telling me that it might be a little bit too firm to do. As well, I am wondering if the the tooth picks would really secure the rolled up. Moreover, the recipe also calls to sautée each side an I am not sure that would work too well with the tooth picks.

I cook duck breast several times a year but have never tried this recipe or anything like it. I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions people have on these directions and, alternatively if people know of a similar recipe that they think is clearer and better or, alternatively, a really good recipe for duck breast.


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  1. I've not done this, but my guess is that they want you to butterfly the breast. Once you do that, it will be thinner and easier to roll up and stick in the toothpicks.

    PS - looking at the picture confirms this. It's too late for me to come up w/ a cogent way to describe how to do this! Maybe you can find something on line about butterflying!

    1. The French version of the recipe -- -- (which is probably the original) says "ouvrir en papillon," i.e. to butterfly. To do so, place the breast longitudinally on a flat surface and, using a sharp knife held parallel to the surface and starting at the halfway point on one side, cut the breast nearly through to the other side. When you're done, you should be able to open the breast like a book, with the uncut side being the binding. If necessary, you can press the open breast with your hand to flatten it and make it easier to roll. After rolling, which shouldn't be too hard to do, especially if you use Pekin duck breasts like Lake Brome's, secure with one or two toothpicks running parallel to the side of the breast.

      If this seems like too much of a hassle, you could always just cut a pocket into the breast along one side, place your stuffing in the pocket and close with a toothpick. Of course you won't get the spiral effect.

      1 Reply
      1. re: carswell

        Thanks very much to both of you for the advice. When I first looked at it, I did not think it was a butterfly at all but now, after reading, the two response I realize that I am wrong.

        Much apprecated and cheers!

      2. jar, yes, another confirmation. Just butterfly each breast half and flatten to an even, uniform piece by covering with plastic wrap and lightly pounding a bit with your fist (one on the end of each arm). Fill and roll along the long axis. You could tie with kitchen string instead of using toothpicks--easier to sautee. It sounds like a good recipe.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Though neither the English or French versions of the recipe are a model of clarity, I suspect the breast is meant to be rolled along the short axis, starting with the inner half (the non-skin side). That way the skin side with the scored fat ends up being on the outside. If rolled along the long axis, only half the roll would be covered by skin/fat and some of the skin/fat would end up inside the roll, no?

          1. re: carswell

            Yes, you're right. Thinking about it, I see I meant to say "along the short axis" meaning rolling the long side and starting with the skinless side!

            1. re: carswell

              You might be right. I don't know. I pictured starting rolling along the long axis with the skinless side (because of the butterflying) towards me in front. The skin would then cover the outside as rolling was completed.

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I would tie also - works better than toothpicks I think - but if you don't have string... everyones advice has been spot on

            3. Well, according to the ingredients list of the recipe, it calls for:
              "2 Brome Lake duck breasts, boneless with skin"
              "4 slices Brome Lake dried, smoked ans sliced duck magret"

              These ingredients are at the top of the recipe in bold type, so it's easy to overlook them and assume they're part of the title.

              The recipe is for stuffed duck breasts, and you fill them first, then secure them with a toothpick, then saute them as per directions. Study the picture and you can tell the differnce between the outer duck breast and the smoked duck filling.

              I'm just not sure I'd ever give this recipe a shot... I'm not much taken with the idea of duck stuffed with cheese. But to each his own... '-)

              1. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Just to let you know, I did butterfly it and it was wonderful. A recipe I will make again. I also found the tooth picks were very easy to remove. Most of the time they probably would not work in plae of butcher's twine but it worked here.