Thanksgiving 2023 At The Rabbitt’s

I want to share our Thanksgiving menu with you and talk about how I prepared it. For the first time ever in my adult life I did not cook a turkey. My husband, Jerry and I, got married on Thanksgiving Day 30 years ago and we decided to celebrate this milestone by serving up something a little different. I love French everything so we settled on…

Duck Breast with Cherry Bourbon Sauce

Confit Duck Leg and Porcini Mushroom Risotto

Green Beans Almondine

Butternut Squash Pie With Candied Pecans

Served on Thanksgiving Day without the sauce. More on that later…

LET’S START WITH THE DUCK

True confession. I have never cooked a duck breast. I have cooked whole duck many times and growing up, my Dad was a hunter and we would cook many different types of wild duck, but never just the breast.

I bought the Duck Breast and Confit Duck Legs online from D’Artagan. This company was started in 1985 by Ariane Daguin. It is a fascinating story. To learn more, go to:

https://www.d’artagan.com

Ariane started this company, against all odds and with very little money, with just one product–duck pate. She now has a huge product line of the world’s finest, highest quality, and conscientiously raised meats and game; duck and poultry; seafood; truffles, and more. Their philosophy is “food raised right, tastes better“. I like that philosophy.

Jerry and I had so much fun deciding on the menu and then cooking together. Duck breasts cook very quickly and you do not want to overcook them. I did a lot of reading about how to best cook a duck breast since this was my first time.

Carefully score the skin being sure not to cut through to the meat. Scoring the skin helps release all of that wonderful fat, both making the duck beautifully seasoned and juicy. Duck has practically no fat, so you need the fat under the skin to render into the meat.

Here’s another true confession: The Cherry Bourbon sauce on Thanksgiving Day was a disaster. I have made this sauce before, but for pork, not duck. For whatever reason I added the duck blood from the package right into the sauce. I have made blood sausage in Ireland a couple of times and know that in Ireland they make blood sausage with both duck and goose blood, so I thought this would be a good idea. What I didn’t realize is how strong duck blood is–both taste and smell. I tried blending the sauce, but in the end, dumped it and we had the duck plain. The next day, I went back to my original sauce and it was spectacular.

Liberally salt the duck breast on the fat side, and gently salt on the flesh side. Place the cold duck breasts, skin side down, in a cold cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet and start cooking over low heat. High heat will cook the interior too quickly without rendering the fat and too low of a heat doesn’t render the fat enough. Once it starts to sizzle, increase heat a little bit. And once the fat begins to release, spoon it over the breasts.

Cook skin side down for about 15 minutes. If you are taking its’ temperature, it should be about 125 degrees. Flip the breasts and cook another 3 minutes; 130 degrees or until the flesh feels supple. If it is firm, it is overcooked. Rule of thumb: You can always cook longer, but once overdone, it’s over! Rest the breast, tented with foil for 7 to 10 minutes before cutting. As with all meats, they will continue to cook as they rest.

After about 15 minutes on the skin side, flip them, and continue basting with the duck fat for another 3 minutes.

To make the Green Bean Almondine, start by Frenching the Green Beans. I did this ahead of time. This is simply a fancy term for julienne or slicing the Green Beans thinly. These beans are different from Haricots Verts, which are a completely different variety of thin green beans.

The Green Beans and Almonds cook quickly in a cast iron pan with a little butter and salt, so an easy and delicious addition to the menu.

NEXT, THE DUCK CONFIT RISOTTO WITH PORCINI MUSHROOMS

I also bought the duck legs from D’Artagan. Confit is the term used when cooking a duck leg, or whole duck, very slowly in duck fat until the skin gets crispy and the interior has a silky, very tender texture. It is a technique near and dear to the French.

This one duck leg was the perfect proportion for one batch (1 cup of Arborio rice) of Risotto. I have blogged Risotto before and if you want the recipe I use, go to one of the SEARCH bars in my blog, and search for Risotto. The recipes will appear, but they are part of the old blog, so you won’t be able to JUMP to RECIPE, or PRINT, but you can copy, paste and print the old fashioned way. I have never made this Risotto before using Confit Duck Legs. It was delicious and the perfect complement to the meal. This time I used Gruyere cheese instead of Parmesan and the Porcini’s added a lovely woodsy flavor.

NOW FOR THE CHERRY BOURBON SAUCE

I wanted the sauce to be a little chunky, not perfectly blended so once the cherries went in, used the back of a rubber spatula to cut and flatten them.

First heat the butter until it is sizzling and bubbling. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, finely diced onion (or shallot, but I was out), a dash of garlic granules, pinch of salt, and the tiniest pinch of cinnamon. Cook for a few minutes to blend the flavors and soften the onion.

Carefully pour in 1/8 cup of Bourbon. Tilt the pan until the bourbon catches. Let it flame until it extinguishes and then reduce heat.

These are the bourbon soaked cherries I used, but I think any cherries in bourbon would work well.

Add the cherries and cook the sauce down for about 20 minutes. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

We concluded our feast with one of our favorite Thanksgiving pies–Roasted Butternut Squash with Candied Pecans. I have also blogged this in the past, but again, the recipe will be part of the old blog so you will need to COPY, PASTE and PRINT manually. Trust me, it is worth it!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I’d love to know what you made. We are officially into holiday season so keep cooking up old festive favorites and finding new food traditions along the way.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Cherry Bourbon Sauce

Both the bourbon and cherries add a wonderful sweetness which contrasts nicely with the salted butter and actual salt. The sauce is also excellent on pork and I think would go well with chicken breast stuffed with Proscuitto and Gorgonzola cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, salted
  • 3 Tbsp. Onion, finely diced I usually use shallots, but had none in my pantry.
  • 1/8 tsp. Garlic granules
  • 4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • Dash Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup Bourbon
  • 1/2 cup Jarred Cherries soaked in Bourbon Also excellent in a Manhattan!

Instructions

  • Bring the butter to bubbling over medium-high heat, but do not brown it.
  • Add diced onion, garlic granules, fresh thyme, salt, and pinch of cinnamon and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Carefully pour in the bourbon. If it fails to flame, tilt the pan until it does, but be careful not to spill the alcohol onto your burner. Then you will have a big flame.
  • Once the flame has gone out, reduce heat and let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Using the back of a spoon or rubber spatula flatten and cut up the cherries into small pieces.
  • Cover and remove from heat until ready to serve. If you are not serving right away, gently re-heat before serving.

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Deborah Vis November 26, 2023 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Well Cindy, you already know I have plenty of bourbon soaked cherries so I’m ready to make the sauce, just need the duck. I will let you know how it comes together.

    • Cindy Rabbitt November 26, 2023 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      Love it! It’s my new L’Orange. Can’t wait to hear what you think. Love you, too!!

  2. Diana Makes November 26, 2023 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    You never cease to amaze me ….

    • Cindy Rabbitt November 26, 2023 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Awwww…you are too kind. Love remembering all the fabulous holidays, food and fun we have shared. So grateful for our friendship. ❤️

  3. Francine D'Anna November 27, 2023 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Looks Delicious!!

    • Cindy Rabbitt November 27, 2023 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks!! It was pretty special. But I did miss making a turkey. Hope you and Joe had a great holiday!

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