There are so many food blogs out there that it is hard to find the really good ones. But once in a while I discover a new food blog that I really like, and one of those is Stefano’s Italian Home Cooking. After trying his hand at being a cookbook writer and chef, he now teaches Italian cooking classes. The recipes he posts are rooted deeply in Italian culinary tradition, although he does modernize them. A recipe he posted that appealed to me at once was Anatra in salsa, duck as it is prepared in the region of Veneto with a ‘sauce’ of soppressa (the typical salame from Veneto), pancetta or lardo, anchovies, garlic, sage, rosemary, and vinegar. Luckily I can get soppressa in Amsterdam and I have a supply of delicious homemade pancetta in my freezer. To accompany the duck I decided on radicchio di Treviso, a red version of chicory/endive/witlof, which is a very typical vegetable from the same region that I knew would work very well with the same sauce.
This dish turned out wonderful and I will definitely make it again. The duck and radicchio both worked very well with the delicious flavorful sauce. I finished cooking the duck breast sous-vide, but you could just as easily finish it in the oven together with the radicchio. You’ll make that a lot easier by using an instant read thermometer with a probe, which will tell you when to pull the duck out of the oven to prevent overcooking it. I looked at various other recipes for anatra in salsa and in the end decided on my own version, but the inspiration certainly came from Stefano. In my version I left the skin on the duck, and used the duck fat for making the sauce instead of using olive oil or butter.
For 2 servings
2 duck breast fillets, about 400 grams (.9 lb) total weight
30 grams (1 oz) soppressa (or other Italian salame, but not too spicy)
30 grams (1 oz) pancetta
1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 anchovy fillet
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
Score the skin/fat side of the duck with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, making sure to avoid cutting into the meat underneath. Season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and put the duck breasts in there, skin side down, without adding any butter or oil.
Cook over medium-high heat until the skin is deeply brown but not black, then turn and cook for a minute on the other side.
Turn off the heat, take the duck out of the pan, and reserve.
There will be tasty duck drippings in the pan that we are going to use for the sauce, so do not clean the pan.
Allow the pan to cool somewhat while you mince the rosemary, garlic, pancetta, and sage.
Add them to the pan with the duck drippings, and stir over medium heat for a minute.
In the meantime, quickly mince the anchovies and chop the soppressa.
Add the anchovies and soppressa to the pan…
…and stir for a minute.
Deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
Stir and turn off the heat.
If cooking sous-vide, allow duck and sauce to cool and then vacuum seal together. Cook sous-vide for 3 hours between 54C/129F (medium rare) and 60C/140F (medium), depending on your preference. I like 56C/133F.
You could also finish cooking the duck in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Lightly grease an oven dish with olive oil. Cut the radicchio into quarters lengthwise, and rub the cut sides with olive oil. Arrange the radicchio wedges in the oven dish in a single layer.
Bake for 5 minutes at 200C/400F, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Take the duck out of the sous-vide (or out of the oven).
Keep the sauce warm over low heat while you slice the duck.
Serve the sliced duck and radicchio on preheated plates, and spoon the sauce on top of both the duck and the radicchio.
We enjoyed this with a Refosco, a medium-bodied red from the same region.