KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Magret de Canard aux Figues de Vendée
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Check, Please! Bay Area: Season 2: Episode 3
CUESA: Sunday Supper
Interview with Tanya Steel Part Two
Restaurant Reviews: Forum with Michael Krasny
Fillmore Farmers' Market & SF Cheese School
Les Fermiers de Place Monge
Check, Please! Bay Area: Season 2: Episode 2
Interview with Tanya Steel Part One
Fairfax Farmers' Market
Pierre Herme's Fall Fashion Line
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Magret de Canard aux Figues de Vendée


On a small farm on the west coast of France in a little town called Vendée a stone's throw from the beach, a regal fig tree hung heavy with fruit. My flatmate Pierre spied these little purple ornaments and quickly filled up a bag just before hopping on a train headed for Paris. Pierre called me from the train to tell me about his fugitive figs and we quickly set out to come up with the perfect meal to honor these little purple treats.



Pierre grew up on this farm where he and his parents grew onions, shallots, garlic and these glorious figs. This sunny corner of France dates back to the 1100s when Eleanor of Aquitaine married the Duke of Normandy and subsequently King Henry II of England. The primary economy was agriculture but with the discovery of their pristine beaches, tourism prevailed and now every summer many French families migrate to this sea side for their summer vacation.

The fig has been traced back to Western Asia and is believed to have spread west throughout the Mediterranean area. It was cultivated for thousands of years as remnants of figs were found in excavations of Neolithic sites traced to at least 5,000 B.C. Greek Goddess Demeter heralded the fig as the Fruit of Autumn and the Romans regarded Bacchus as the god who introduced the fig to mankind. The fig tree was sacred and many images of the gods show them crowned, or clothed, with fig leaves. And we can't forget to pay homage to that favorite childhood treat dating back to 1892, the fabulous Fig Newton, the first commercial product to contain figs.

Spanish missionaries are credited with bringing figs to California. They first planted them at the San Diego Mission, hence the name Mission Fig, and at each subsequent mission as they headed north past San Francisco. However these figs have a much more regal history that dates back to the Old Testament. Figs are mentioned extensively throughout the Bible and certain theories support that it was actually a fig that Eve ate that fateful day in the Garden.

Giddy doesn't begin to describe it. After the first bite, I wanted to do cartwheels down the hall. Pierre and I high-fived and broke open a bottle of Rhone. This was the first time I'd made duck outside of a restaurant or cooking school or without a recipe so it was a little of this and a dash of that, crossing all fingers and toes and sending up a few prayers to the culinary gods. The duck was cooked to perfection - pink on the inside, moist, juicy, flavorful - and the sauce made with Pierre's figs from Vendee was unctuous and delicious and melded perfectly with the duck. I love it when this happens :)



2 magrets de canard (duck breasts)
2 medium oranges, zested and juiced
cinnamon
quatre epices (all spice or four spice)
ground cardamom
1 tbsp honey
10 figs
oven-safe saute pan

1. Turn oven to 400F / 200C / No. 7

2. Zest and juice oranges.



3. Cut figs into one-eighths.



4. Score fat on duck breast in criss-cross pattern, making sure not to cut into the flesh (like Serge my blue-eyed butcher did above).



5. Heat up the pan over medium-high heat.

6. Put the duck breasts in fat side down and let the fat render, pouring it off as it accumulates in the pan. Don't let it burn, turn the heat down to medium if necessary.



7. Once most of the fat is rendered, pour off all the fat, flip the duck over to flesh side down and add the chopped figs.



8. Put the pan in the oven on a middle shelf and roast for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the oven and size of magrets.

9. Take out duck and set aside on a plate to rest.

10. Place pan with the figs on medium to med-high heat, add half the orange juice, all the orange zest, a few shakes of cinnamon and all spice, one shake of cardamom, and honey. Combine and reduce.



11. Add orange juice to adjust consistency as you'd like. Taste and add spices to your taste.



12. Slice duck breast on the bias and spoon sauce over it.



I served this with simple haricot-verts (thin green beans) sauteed in olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper. Along with the duck breasts, we bought some Pommes Dauphines from our favorite butcher Serge Perraud with the big blue eyes. He and his wife weren't sniping at each other that day so it was an uneventful visit but Serge was ready with advice and a wink. The last time Pierre and I were there, Serge and Madame Perraud were arguing because she came back late from her hair appointment. It was like watching a sitcom, but I digress... Pommes Dauphines are made from mashed potatoes and pate a choux formed into balls and deep fried. Hard to go wrong there! For dessert, we popped in to see Pascal and his brother Jean-Marc Pinaud and their eponymous pastry shop for a petit Bananier, a banana and chocolate delight.





Bon Appetit!
 
 

9 Comments:

Blogger wendygee said...

WOW! Figs and Duck...Yum...need to cash in those frequent flyer miles and come visit you for dinner soon. I also love the fig history...will channel Demeter next time I get my hands on some of those purple treats!

10/08/2006 8:33 AM

 
Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

thanks wendy :) you're welcome for dinner any time! I was so excited - and so surprised - at how good it turned out. the duck magrets were such good quality and the figs perfectly ripe just off the tree, I didn't have to do much, just get out of the way and let the true flavors come through.

10/08/2006 1:23 PM

 
Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

I love seeing how figs are in season here and they're also in season in France. Beautiful pictures, beautiful storytelling.

10/08/2006 8:42 PM

 
Anonymous Pierre (the flatmate) said...

It was so good! Laura was really inspired, she did an amazing job with these figs, I am glad I brought them back home! Thank you again Laura.

10/09/2006 2:59 PM

 
Anonymous James said...

I have been looking for a good recipe for Duck for a while now and i think i just found it. Thanks for the recipe.

10/10/2006 2:08 AM

 
Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

thanks steph! this was a fun one :)

mon cher flatmate! thank *you* for bringing those delicious figs and letting me have carte blanche with them! it's always a wonderful adventure cooking with you and john.

james - my pleasure, so glad it caught your eye. please let me know how it turns out!

10/10/2006 9:29 AM

 
Blogger Michel said...

I saw this post last week, and pretty much made the meal exactly as you posted.
And? It was amazing.
Thanks so much for the new recipe.

10/18/2006 3:35 PM

 
Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

Michel - you made my day! I am so excited that it worked for you! Bonne cuisinez! Laura

10/28/2006 3:31 AM

 
Anonymous Corine said...

Recette splendide, comme d'habitude. Merci !

11/25/2006 5:06 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.