As those of you who follow me on Instagram may already know, I spent a week in Greenville, South Carolina for work a couple of weeks ago. On our way there, my coworker & friend, Charity, and I broke up the trip by stopping in Athens. While we were there, I took advantage by visiting Hugh Acheson’s restaurant, 5and10. I’ve heard so many good things about it, and I basically told Charity that we had to go and crossed my fingers it would be excellent. It was! We shared the pimiento cheese and medjool dates stuffed with Sweet Grass Dairy Asher Blue cheese and celery for “snackies,” shared a delicious spinach salad in which Sweet Grass‘s Asher Blue made a reappearance on our plates, and finally shared the 5and10 pasta, a signature dish. We polished off our meal by splitting a stone fruit tart that was the perfect ending to an amazing meal. Of course, I convinced Charity to go to 5and10 with an ulterior motive: (Don’t worry, I didn’t have to pull on her leg too terribly hard) I wanted Mr. Acheson’s new cookbook. So of course, I got it, and this post is the resulting review of what Wheat called the best way he’s ever eaten duck. I had to make a few “South Georgia” adjustments due to unavailability of some gourmet items, but I think the result was just as delicious, if not more so.
Pan-Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberries, Romaine, Caramelized Vidalias, and Cane Syrup Vinaigrette (adapted from Hugh Acheson’s recipe in A New Turn in the South)
– 6 wood duck breasts
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
– 1 Vidalia onion, sliced thin into half moons
– 1/2 tablespoon stone ground mustard
– 1 teaspoon fresh peeled and minced ginger
– 1 tablespoon cane syrup
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
– 1 head romaine lettuce
– 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
Season the duck breasts with 1/4 teaspoon salt. I used wood duck breasts because my husband killed them at Lake Seminole this year. I’ll call this a South Georgia adjustment. ;)
Score the breasts in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp paring knife. Hugh says this helps to render off the duck fat.
Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the duck breasts. Cook until medium rare. I was following the recipe’s directions on timing, and I overcooked ours a bit because they are so much smaller than the Peking-Long Island hybrid duck breasts Mr. Acheson suggested. They should be medium rare, and looking back, I should have cooked them 5 minutes, tops. When they are medium rare, remove to a plate and set aside.
Add the onions to the duck fat still on the heat, and caramelize the onions for 10 minutes over medium heat. Turn the onions only once or twice while cooking to develop color without burning them.
While the onions are cooking, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the mustard, ginger, and cane syrup in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, and then add the vinegar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Chiffonade the romaine and toss in a bowl with the blueberries and 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
Thinly slice the duck breasts and arrange evenly on two plates. Top the duck with some of the salad, then the onions, and dot each plate with more vinaigrette, if you’re feeling fancy.
This was one of the best meals I’ve cooked in a while. Wheat declared it the best way he’s ever eaten duck, and proclaimed that this meal was so good that he needed to go on multiple trips to Louisiana to bring back bigger ducks for next time. Ya know, to make the cooking easier on me. ;)
Hugh Acheson suggests a glass of red Burgandy with this, and normally I would love that, but I think it is mighty tasty with a really crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
All you hunters’ wives out there, I know you have duck in the freezer that you don’t know what to do with (I hope I wasn’t alone?). Try this recipe; you’ll be begging your husbands to fill your freezers with it!
Bonus: it sounds and looks fancy schmancy, but it literally took 15 minutes total to put together. I call that recipe a keeper!