Luscious Duck Breast Inspiration from Gascony

In this classic dish from Languedoc and Gascony in France the duck breast is sliced thinly and cooked rare.   Most ducks sold in supermarkets are sold frozen and whole, so you’ll have to first defrost the whole duck, then you’ll have to cut the duck into pieces.  The parts you don’t use can be reserved for another preparation.  The green peppercorns provide a nice tang to the lusciousness of the duck. I would serve the duck with roast potatoes. A far more complex recipe was first published by Lucien Daguin, chef of the Hotel de France in Auch in Joie de gastronomie published in 1970.  This version is a simple home cook’s way of preparing it.

Duck Breast with Green Peppercorns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Duck
Cuisine: Gascony
Serves: 4
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 boneless duck breast halves (about 1½ pounds)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons green peppercorns
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and once it starts to brown, cook the duck breast, skin side down until it is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Partially cover the skillet if it is sputtering too much. Turn and cook the flesh side until golden, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pour in the brandy and ignite it to flambé if desired (this is not necessary to do). Once the flames extinguish themselves remove the breast from the skillet and keep warm. Add the wine and peppercorns and let the wine reduce by half. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the cream and black pepper and cook until it is a light sauce, about 5 minutes.
  2. Slice the duck breast into thin slices and spread them like a fan on a dinner plate and spoon some sauce over on each side and serve.


Pork Tenderloin Skewers on the Grill Are Buttery Delicious

This Italian preparation is called spiedini di maiale (pork skewers) and I use pork tenderloin, a buttery cut of meat ideal for grilling. The bread is a natural foil for the aromatic flavors of fresh sage and prosciutto.  A drizzle of olive oil at the end keeps the meat and bread moist and glistening.  The double skewer keeps the ingredients from sliding and helps them cook more evenly.

Spiedini di Maiale
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The sage can be replaced with bay leaves soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to make them less brittle. In Rome, they call this preparation (without the bay leaves) lombello, a dialect word for tenderloin, and they brush the meat with melted lard while grilling.
Recipe type: Grilled Pork
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • Sixteen 10-inch wooden skewers
  • 1¾ pounds pork tenderloin, cut into twenty-four 1-inch-thick cubes
  • About ½ loaf French or Italian bread, cut into twenty-four 1-inch cubes
  • Twenty-four ⅛-inch-thick squares of sliced fatty prosciutto (about 6 ounces)
  • 24 fresh large sage leaves
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on high.
  2. Double skewer all the ingredients: line up a cube of pork, a piece of bread, prosciutto, and sage. Skewer them all with 2 skewers, keeping the skewers parallel to each other about ½ inch apart. You should have 3 pieces of each ingredient per double skewer.
  3. Drizzle each double skewer with olive oil. Salt and pepper on both sides to taste and grill until the bread and pork are golden brown, about 15 minutes per side. Serve hot.


Jambalaya Will Make Everyone Happy

Jambalaya is a rice dish famous in the Creole cooking of Louisiana, a kind of Louisiana version of the Spanish paella.  In the Creole cooking of jambalaya, a cooking associated with New Orleans, they make it “red” through the use of tomato paste … [Continue reading]

Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches Make “Moon of the Faithful” Syrup for Crêpes

This Sicilian sweet syrup is part of what is known folklorically as being part of cucina arabo-sicula, the cooking influenced by the long ago Arab presence in Sicily.  In some Muslim countries, the apricot is known as the “moon of the faithful.”  The … [Continue reading]

Grilled Shrimp Make Great Appetizers, But Can Be Ruined Quickly

Grilling shrimp is a very simple matter that can easily go wrong.  The difference between succulent shrimp grilled to golden orange perfection and dry, withered buttons of nothing is a matter of a minute or so.  When grilling shrimp it is best to … [Continue reading]

“Oh, Wonderful!” Sicilian Eggplant

The Sicilian expression—although little known among contemporary Sicilians—sciàtara-e-màtara, is an exclamation of wonder–or contempt!  It might be said like “Oh, wonderful!” or contemptuously as in “God! Great merciful God!”  The expression derives … [Continue reading]

Keep it Simple When Grilling Fish–The Italian Way

Italians usually keep their seafood grilling simple. That’s because fresh seafood needs little adornment. In this recipe, the fish marinates in fresh orange juice and fresh lemon juice. Then it is grilled along with the orange and lemon wedges, which … [Continue reading]

Grilled Beef Short Ribs for a Lazy Summer Day

About 10 years ago, braised beef short ribs were very popular in restaurants (maybe they still are—I don’t eat out often enough to know) and home cooks joined the bandwagon. Due to the nature of the short rib there is no way you will be cooking this … [Continue reading]

Fava, Artichokes, and Porcini Mushrooms with “Straw and Hay” Fettuccine

June is the time for fava and artichokes and what better way than to cook them with pasta as is typical of Italian cooking. In this recipe inspired by Tuscan cooking, the name of this pasta dish in Italian, paglia e fieno, is a slight twist on a … [Continue reading]

Peaches Arrive For Our June Desserts

Local peaches and nectarines, two of my favorite fruit, arrived at many farmers markets in the past couple of weeks and they will be at their peak of season for the next few months.  I'm lucky I can even get a peach prepared for a dessert as I tend … [Continue reading]

Site maintained by StudioSJS