Monday, May 4, 2009

Foodie Fights! Entry - Smoked Coriander Duck Breast with a Rhubarb Port Wine Reduction

Rhubarb? What? After spending my entire life avoiding it, my desire to be a Foodie Fights! competitor led to a requirement to cook with it. I had no idea what it looked like, what it smelled like, what it tasted like. I spent the first 24 hours in paralyzed fear, the second accepting it for what it was and starting my mental ingredient merry-go-round, and spent the final 24 hours asking my mom, husband, and a friend a series of "would you rather eat..." questions.

For a good portion of Saturday, it seemed like I was meant for failure. You see, spring's coming late to these parts and rhubarb isn't exactly easy to come by. After searching three stores together, I went home to start preparing the duck leaving my husband to embark on The Great Rhubarb Hunt '09. Thirteen stores later, husband returned victorious. He also proved himself a thinker, buying red chard to "substitute" for rhubarb if push came to shove.

I'm not afraid of many foods, but as I stood there in the kitchen, trying my third knife to get through the rough stalk, I actually found myself sneering at it. By the time it was whirling around the food processor, my nose was scruntched up between my eyebrows. The fibers, the smell. I knew I had avoided it for a reason. In the end, I overcame my fear of rhubarb, using the duck to sop up every last bit of the reduction.

Foodie Fights! was exactly what it was meant to be, a challenge. It challenged my recipe creation skills by throwing in an unfamiliar ingredient as well as my personal preferences.
Please swing by Foodie Fights on Tuesday, May 5th to check out the competition and place your vote for your favorite recipe.

Alder Wood Smoked Coriander Duck Breasts with a Rhubarb Port Wine Reduction

Note: This recipe can be recreated on the BBQ using wooden grilling planks. If you use this method, be sure to submerge the planks in water for 3 hours prior to cooking.

Duck Preparation - Four Easy Steps

Step One - Marinate Breasts:

2 duck breast halves
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbs peanut oil
2 tbs honey
1 tbs ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir well.
2. Add the duck breasts, coating both sides. Refrigerate for two hours.

Step Two - Seal In Moisture:

Apple wood smoked bacon, one slice per breast half

1. In a large pan over high heat, cook the bacon to your preference.
2. Eat bacon, reserve bacon fat.
3. When breasts are done marinating, remove from marinade and coat each breast with bacon grease.

Step Three - Prepare Coriander Rub:

2 tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns

1. In a food processor or mortor, grind coriander and peppercorns until they have broken into a fine grit.
2. Rub coriander mixture into the greased duck breasts, coating each side.

Step Four - Smoke/BBQ Duck Breasts:

Duck cooked to medium rare (140 F) will result in meat that seemingly melts in your mouth but you can prepare it just like chicken to 170 F if you'd prefer well done.

If you are using a smoker, prep with alder wood. Heat to 225 F. Place breasts on an ungreased rack in the middle of the smoker. Smoke for 60 to 90 minutes or until the breasts reach your desired doneness. View video of the duck being removed from the smoker.

If you are using a barbecue, submerge a wood plank in water for three hours (alder and fruit woods work the best, but any flavor will do). Using indirect heat, preheat grill to 300 F. Place plank in center of grill and place duck breasts skin side down on the planks. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until duck has reached desired doneness.

Reduction and Sides Preparation - 3 Easy Steps

Step One - Make the Reduction:

1 lb rhubarb stalks, roughly chopped
3 bird's eye chilies, stems removed
6 tbs honey
1 stalk lemongrass, light purple and pale while parts chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 c chicken stock
3 tbs port wine
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 tbs butter

1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the rhubarb, chilies, ginger, lemongrass, and honey. Puree until smooth.
2. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Add chicken stock. Cook over medium low heat (a slow simmer) for 20 minutes.
3. Mash the puree through a sieve. Reserve the liquid that comes out. Discard the remainder.
4. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, add the port wine to the rhubarb liquid.
5. Whisk in the arrowroot until dissolved and reduce mixture by half.
6. Just before serving, whisk in the butter.

Step Two - Heat the Marinade:

While the rhubarb is cooking down, bring the reserved marinade to a boil and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently. Turn heat down to low and let cook until duck is ready.

Step Three - Cook the Carrots and Spinach:

1 large bunch of spinach, washed
2 carrots, cut into sticks
1 tbs olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon

1. In a large saute pan over high, heat the olive oil and lemon juice.
2. Add the carrots and saute for four minutes. Remove carrots.
3. Add the spinach. Saute until spinach just starts to wilt.
4. Arrange carrots and spinach on individual plates.

Bringing It All Together:

1. Remove duck breasts and slice width-wise at an angle into thin strips.
2. Arrange duck slices over spinach.
3. Spoon or pipe rhubarb port reduction over duck breast and plate.
4. Spoon marinade into small serving bowls and serve duck.


  1. Holy rhubarb. I really like the idea of pairing rhubarb with balsamic. It looks tasty - and this is totally fun, isn't it?

  2. Wow, smoked duck with a rhubarb port reduction. Nice job, it looks wonderful. Good luck!

  3. Looks great--I had the same rhubarb search challenges! Fortunately, it only took 3-4 stores/farm stands to finally unearth some.

    Good luck!

  4. I love duck and the sneak peak was a great touch!
    Wishing you luck today.

  5. Yay for duck breast. This looks great!

  6. Good luck and what fun the past couple of days have been. I had the same rhubarb struggle.Mine is only 6 inches high. We just stopped skiing Sunday! I look forward to making this dish with my excess rhubarb. Peace, Gerry


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