Roasted Duck Breast with Pan-Fried Belgian Endive, Caramelized Pear, and Ginger
When it comes to Belgian food, my first thought is moules-frite, followed quickly by Liege waffles and delicious beer. There are two Belgian restaurants in Vancouver where I’ve sampled these treats (Chambar for moules-frites and BierCraft for the good stuff). Truthfully the best Liege waffles I’ve had – made with brioche dough and crunchy caramelized pearl sugar – come frozen from Costco. (These are them!) Granted, I haven’t had the real thing; I’ve never been to Belgium except to a shady bus station en route from Germany to France.
One day I hope to go and eat my way through Belgium, which is said to have the quantity of German cuisine but with quality of French food. Nothing wrong with that!
For this week’s challenge, my original plan was to make moules-frites – mussels steamed in a delicious sauce, served with crispy French fries (which were actually invented in Belgium).
The wrench in the plan was that I just had moules-frites last week at Sandbar (it’s a fantastic deal!), so I opted to explore a different Belgian ingredient: endive.
But, before I get to the cooking, let’s talk about the beer. We sipped on three different Belgian beers while cooking, all strong, dark ales: Delirium Nocturnum, St Bernardus Abt 12, and Mc Chouffe. All three were a treat, but to me Abt 12 is really outstanding!
Back to the food. I found this James Beard recipe which pairs endive with roasted duck breast, pear, ginger, and balsamic. While I’m not sure how authentically Belgian it is, I was certainly inspired by the Belgian ingredient. To cook, I seared the duck breast in a pan until the skin was crispy, then popped it in the oven to roast. The vegetables were fried in the rendered fat, and everything was served with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
Halfway through cooking I was skeptical about how it was going to turn out, particularly the combination of ginger and balsamic, but the end product was amazing! The duck was crispy and juicy, the vegetables tender and golden, and the sweet, tangy sauce brought everything together beautifully.
And washing it all down with the fine Belgian ales wasn’t too bad either.