Extravagant name, extravagant dish! While perfect for your vegan holiday table, this recipe can also be a year-round classic to satisfy your palate and hone your cooking skills. Thanks heavens for mock duck, which serves as a meaty, smoky vessel for the true star of this dish: the rich, flavorful sauce.
While relatively simple to make, the sauce does take a bit of technique and caution as you're going to be making a gastrique...tres gourmet!
Start by caramelizing the sugar, which is tricky because there's a fine line between caramelized and burnt...and sugar can burn very easily. My best advice would just be to watch it carefully; it shouldn't take any longer than 5 minutes. When the color is golden, remove from the heat and add red wine vinegar and dried cherries. Here's where you'll want to watch your skin and eyes: the vinegar will react and spatter, and it will be hot! Try not to use a spoon to stir the mixture, as the sugar will harden on it, and it will take some work trying to melt it off. Instead, gently shake the pot, coating the cherries and mixing everything up.
Now for the easiest part of the recipe: sauteeing the mock duck. I found mine in the refrigerated section of my local Asian market, for only about $4 a pound. Many varieties are "smoked with tea leaves," which gives it a smoky herbal flavor on top of an already-sweet taste. The texture can be a bit rubbery, so just find a good brand that works for you (or, try using tofu or seitan). Slice it to about 1/4-inch thickness, season with salt and pepper, and saute in hot oil for a few minutes on each side until crisp and browned. Remove from the pan, and keep warm.
For the second part of the sauce, saute shallots and garlic in olive oil, then add wine and boil until reduced. Add vegetable broth, and reduce again. Strain this into the cherry sauce and simmer. Finally, stir in soy creamer and simmer until it's completely dissolved.
Serve the sauce over the mock duck slices, and prepare to be amazed. The richness of the sauce works well with the meatiness of the duck. It's sweet and winey, and almost has a savory, buttery note from the olive oil and shallots. The cherry flavor is strongly pronounced, which seems to be further intensified by the earthy, berry notes of the pinot. Bon appetit!
Duck Breasts with Pinot Noir and Cherry Sauce
(adapted from Cooking Light, October 2008)
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season mock duck on both sides with salt and pepper. Add duck to pan, and cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and keep warm.
Return skillet to medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, shallots, and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring frequently. Add wine to pan; increase heat to medium-high. Bring mixture to a boil; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup (about 6 minutes). Add broth; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 6 minutes). Pour wine mixture through a fine sieve into cherry mixture; discard solids. Bring cherry mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in cream; simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Serve sauce over duck. Serves 4-6.