Happy Monday! We survived Thanksgiving! I’m not sure what it is about Thanksgiving brings out the crazy in everyone, but I do have a few ideas. Some people stress out over throwing a regular dinner party, so the idea of throwing the ultimate dinner party for 20 of your closest in-laws in the middle of the day could drive anyone to start drinking at 11 am. Despite the stress we put upon ourselves, Thanksgiving remains the number one meal Americans look forward to every year. I’m not sure its the meal itself people anxiously await, but the leftovers they get to enjoy in the privacy of their own home. I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat the same thing several days in a row. Instead of throwing out what you’re tired of eating, try pairing one aspect of your Thanksgiving meal with a different protein or side.
I didn’t have any leftovers from my actual Thanksgiving dinner, but I still had a bag of cranberries and some kale that hadn’t been used. I decided to make a red wine cranberry sauce, apple cider braised kale, and a seared duck breast. The only thing I had to buy was the duck! Even though we’d eaten our fair share of cranberries and kale, preparing them differently showed them in a whole new light. If you already have prepared cranberry sauce you can use it as is, or spruce it up with some wine, red wine vinegar, herbs or spices.
These are just elements that work together as a dish, so instead of a recipe, I’m just going to give you some tips.
Searing a Duck Breast:
- Place duck breast, fat side down, on a cutting board.
- Trim any excess fat that sticks out around the sides of the
duck breast. Then, flip the duck fat side up and score the fat in a criss cross so they make diamond shapes. Use a very sharp knife and be careful not to cut into the meat through the fat. Salt and pepper each side of the duck breast.
- Heat a medium sized pan over medium high heat. Place the duck, fat side down, into the pan. Turn your heat down to low. Low heat is important so you can render out enough fat and still cook the duck breast at the same time. It should take 15-20 minutes for the fat to render and crisp. If you try to flip your duck breast and it feels like its stuck to the pan, it’s not done. It will release itself when it’s ready.
- Flip your duck breast and on a medium heat sear the non-fat side for about 3 minutes.
- Remove the duck from the pan and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
- Slice and serve! I think one duck breast is enough for two people.
Red Wine Cranberry Sauce
- I used about a half of a bag of cranberries for this. Pick
through cranberries and make sure you don’t have any mushy ones (ick).
- Place your firm cranberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons water, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup of red wine. Season with salt. Add about 3 tbs sugar and stir. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Once the cranberries pop they will start to absorb more and more liquid. I like my cranberry sauce on the sweeter and thicker side. The longer your cranberries cook the more pectin they will release and the thicker it will get. Make sure to taste your sauce while it’s cooking and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
- Clean your kale well. Bugs like to hide in curly kale and its not fun to see a caterpillar out of the corner of your eye as it enters your mouth. Once it’s clean, dry your kale well.
- I like to crisp my kale before I braise it. It’s one more step but I think it draws the bitterness out. I sauteed my kale in a bit of olive oil and a few cloves of garlic until it starts to brown a bit. Add a few tablespoons of water. In this case I used half water, half apple cider. I left my pan uncovered and stirred the kale over high heat until all of the liquid was absorbed and the kale had reduced by more than half.
This whole dinner took me the time it took to cook the duck. This isn’t a dinner you need to fuss over, it’s just a way to reuse what you already have so it feels new and exciting.