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Salt-cured Duck Breast with Fig Jam

Recipe adapted from Taming the Flame

The duck is a very fatty bird—which is why itís so delicious—but the fat has a tendency to drip onto the grill and potentially cause dangerous flare-ups. So itís important to keep a drip pan underneath the bird. Ducks also have a wonderfully thick skin that, in addition to sealing moisture inside, tastes amazing when cooked to a crisp. Like many duck recipes, this one gets a sweet pairing—fig jam—that balances beautifully with the rich dark meat and the savory skin, which is cured for at least four hours. Itís worth the extra wait.
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 skin-on boneless duck breasts
  • 2 cups very coarse sea salt (not kosher)
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup best-quality fig jam
  • 4 tablespoons juice of half a lemon

Preparation

  1. Pat the duck dry with paper towels. Score the skin by making diagonal cuts (about 5) across each breast—do not cut completely through the skin. Put the breasts in a square, 8-inch disposable aluminum container. Set aside. Mix the salt, sugar, and pepper, and pour over the duck. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or preheat the gas grill. Remove the breasts from the pan, and shake off excess salt. Place the duck, fat-side up, in the center of the cooking grate over indirect medium heat, cover, and grill-roast for 40 minutes. Turn the duck over and continue grilling until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. (If the skin is not crisp, move the duck to an area of direct heat, skin-side down, for 3 to 4 minutes.) When the skin is caramelized, return the meat to an area of indirect heat and turn over to glaze.
  3. Mix the jam with the lemon juice, and brush it generously onto the skin of the breasts. Grill for 5 more minutes or until the fig glaze is set. Remove from the grill, and let the breasts rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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