This is an elegant combination for fall or winter when you want to fill your home with the aromas of sweet fruit and rich duck cooking. The chutney is an integral part of this dish, a must, lending just the right texture and tartness. Your butcher shop or any large specialty food-lunch store will bone duck breasts and trim them for you. Do not, for a minute, let that detail stand in the way of your making this. Wild rice or one of the suggestions below would make a fitting accompaniment.
- 3 whole boned duck breasts, with skin on, split in half, about 3 pounds total weight
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Pear Chutney
SERVE WITH: White Beans with Peppers and Rosemary or Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion and Thyme
- Using a sharp knife, cut the skin on each duck breast half in a crosshatch pattern, slicing through the skin, but not into the meat. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 large, heavy-bottomed skillets over high heat until very hot. (Cast iron skillets work very well.) Place the breasts in the pan, skin side down, and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain off the fat.
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of the vinegar into each skillet and cook for 1 minute. Turn the breasts, meat side down, and sear for 3 minutes. Remove the pans from the heat and let the duck breasts come to room temperature. (After standing, the duck breasts will be pink in the center.)
- Pat the duck breasts dry and place on a cutting board. Cut each crosswise with a sharp knife into ¼-inch-thick slices. Layer the slices on a large platter and serve with the chutney, either spooned on the end of the platter or in a small serving bowl.
PREPPING IN ADVANCE: The duck breasts can be prepared 1 hour ahead through step 3. Transfer them to a platter, cover loosely, and let stand at room temperature.