Monday, April 16, 2007
Duck Steaks with Roasted Peaches and Cold Sesame Noodles
Okay, I'll fess up. I've never really watched Tyler's Ultimate on Food Network. I've had it on in the background, but I never really watched him. All I know about Tyler Florence is that he is super-cute. And I HATE the How to Boil Water show that he does but that might be because of his dingy co-host. But I realized that I have never given him a chance when I watched his Chefography a few weeks ago. So I decided to order his latest book Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time.
Now, I find it a bit presumptuous to call something "THE ULTIMATE". It's okay to be a specialist is something. For example, I'd be okay if he had "Tyler's Ultimate Fried Chicken" or something like that. But a whole book for of ULTIMATE recipes? I was very hesitant. But flipping through the recipes I quickly realized that he has quite a few really, really good meals. The first one I decided to try was his Duck Steaks with Roasted Peaches and Cold Sesame Noodles. This is partly because I have made really good sesame noodles before (soba noodles with a spicy peanut sauce) and I knew I could compare his to the one I already knew I liked. The second is because I am trying to cook with things I have not worked with before and duck was on that list. And how can anyone not want to try roasted peaches?
It took me a little over an hour to prepare this entire meal and I don't think that is bad at all considering how elegant it is. I couldn't find any peaches at the grocery store so I bought a jar of natural peach slices which I think have been boiled or something. I just laid them on the baking sheet and roasted them anyways. Peaches roasted in olive oil with salt sprinkled on . . . yum! The peanut sauce for the soba noodles is really amazing. I love the complex flavors. It is nice and creamy with a bit of heat from the peppers but it is still smooth and has a great consistency to go over the noodles. And as for the duck, I got really lucky. It ended up just perfect!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the peaches all over with salt and pepper. Put them cut sides up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Throw them in the oven and roast until the peaches are very tender when you stick a knife in them, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the duck breasts on a cutting board skin side up and score all over in a tiny crosshatch pattern so that as much of the fat as possible will render and the skin will crisp. Season all over with salt and pepper and drizzle with sesame oil. Film the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil and put the pan over medium heat. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the skin is browned and crispy. Occasionally dump the fat out into a bowl. Turn the breasts and cook on the other side for 1 or 2 more minutes for medium-rare. Take the breasts out of the pan and put them on a platter to rest.
Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until barely tender and still firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water to cool. Drain the noodles really well, transfer to a wide serving bowl, and toss immediately with 3 tablespoons of the sesame oil.
Peel the ginger and garlic cloves and smack with the back of a knife. In a saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons of the sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile. Cook, stirring for a minute until the vegetables are soft and fragrant. Dump that into a blender along with the brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, hot water, chile sauce, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil; puree and refrigerate until cold.
Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and scallions.