Seasonal Flavors: Extraordinarily Romantic Duck Piccata

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Duck Piccata in the skillet (Photo: Denise Zito)

Perhaps you are the person who enjoys going out to dinner on Valetine’s Day. But there is hardly anything more romantic than cooking together on a chilly evening, eating something inspiring and different, and doing it all with a glass of wine. If there is a fireplace or woodstove involved, so much the better.

Here is a simple yet elegant dinner that even novice cooks can prepare. This dish is usually made with chicken, but on the holiday of love, why not get a bit exotic?  Where can one find duck breast?  One excellent place is the local Free Union Grass Farm (my annual shameless promotion of my son’s wonderful business). They sell at the Ix Market on Saturdays or at their own farmstand on Friday afternoons. But maybe other groceries carry duck breast? Sorry, I would not know about that.

N.B. Valentine’s Day falls on the same day as Ash Wednesday this year, presenting some of us with a quandary. I suggest you search your soul, consult your pastor, and perhaps opt to celebrate romance on the evening before. 

Extraordinarily Romantic Duck Piccata

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 6 T butter
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 lemon, cut in half.  Thinly slice one half; juice the other half.
  • 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 4 tsp capers

Cut the duck breasts horizontally, so that you have thin cutlets. This is easier if they are partially frozen; pop them into the freezer for 30 minutes and then slice them.

After slicing, place each cutlet between two pieces of wax paper and pound with a mallet until about half inch thick.  

Mix ½ tsp of salt and ½ tsp pepper in the flour, then dredge each cutlet to coat in flour.

Melt 3 T of the butter in a heavy frying pan and fry each cutlet over medium heat, 3 minutes per side or until cooked through. Work in batches until the four cutlets are cooked. Remove them from the pan and prepare the sauce.

Add the shallots, and lemon slices and cook gently till the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, increase the heat a bit and cook gently till the sauce reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Now reduce the heat, add the lemon juice, the capers and the remaining 3 T butter.

To serve, pour the sauce over the chicken. If desired, serve the picatta over buttered angel hair pasta. Add a salad. Kiss your lover. 

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