Duck has a rich flavor that pairs well with fruit sauces as this recipe for duck with fig sauce will show.
Figs have been around for a while
Some archeologists believe that the fig was domesticated before grains. The fig has been part of history, literature, and, of course, dinner for as long as there has been history, literature, and dinner. Cato, who so distrusted the Carthigians that he would end each speech with "Carthago delenda est" (Carthage must be destroyed) used the availability of figs as one of the reasons that Carthage should be invaded. Homer mentions them in the Odyssey and baskets of figs were found in the tombs of Egyptian kings. The fig is also the most mentioned fruit in the Bible as the fig leaf is used as a garment, so the fig has been involved in couture as well.
With a long and colorful history like the figs, you would think that there would be endless fig recipes like a recipe for duck with fig sauce and you would be correct. Welcome at any meal, the sweet taste of figs can enhance anything they are added to. They make wonderful preserves, sauces, garnishes, and snacks.
What is a Fig?
The short answer would be 80 percent water. Figs, members of the mulberry family, are found in three colors: green, brown, and purple. Figs dry well in the sun and keep for a long time. Usually the drying process is started on the tree and then finished off by drying in the sun.
Figs are actually closer to flowers than fruit. The body of the fruit is the fleshy base of the flower with an open pore. Inside, there are tiny female florets that develop into small fruits that look like seeds. The florets are pollinated by small wasps or in some cases ants that enter into the fruit by the pore. Some fig trees will develop fruit without pollination while others will not set fruit unless they are pollinated. Figs are very high in minerals clocking in with a high calcium, iron, and potassium content.
Recipe for Duck with Fig Sauce
I used black mission figs for this recipe for duck with fig sauce but you can use whatever dried fig you like best. I used a vegetable stock in this recipe, but if you like you can use chicken stock. I prefer to use vegetable stock with duck because it doesn't mask the duck flavor like a chicken stock might. A duck stock or even a duck demi-glace would be even better, but I don't know many people who have duck stock handy. For the dates, I went with Medjool dates because they are large and sweet. Be sure to remove the pits from the dates before cooking them.
- 4 duck breasts, skin on
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine like a chardonnay
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 10 dried Black Mission figs cut in half
- 4 dried Medjool dates quartered
- Salt and pepper
- Using a very sharp knife, cut through the skin and almost all the way through the fat on the duck breast.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the olive oil into a 12-inch skillet and place over a medium heat.
- Once the skillet is warm, place the duck breasts, skin side down, into the skillet.
- Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the skin is golden brown.
- Turn the duck breasts over and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the duck breasts from the skillet and place on a plate. Cover with foil.
- Pour off all but three tablespoons of duck fat from the skillet.
- Add the wine and deglaze the skillet.
- Reduce the wine by half.
- Add the vegetable stock, dried figs, and dates.
- Taste for salt and pepper.
- Cook until the stock reduces by half and add the duck breasts back to the skillet.
- Cook for three more minutes.
- Serve with parsnips and polenta.