Almond-Caramelized Duck Breasts with Amaretto Jus
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup amaretto
1/3 cup ruby port
1/3 cup dry red wine
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 (1 3/4-to 2 1/2-pound) boneless skin-on whole duck breast, halved
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 cup Jordan almonds, preferably all white
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Arrange one oven rack in the lowest position. Place another oven rack 8 inches from the broiler heat source. Preheat the oven to 450f.
Bring the vinegar, amaretto, port, wine and fennel to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Continue boiling rapidly until syrupy and reduced to 1/3 cup, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Season both sides of the duck breasts with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan, swirling to coat the bottom, then add the duck, skin side down. Transfer the pan to the lowest rack in the over. Cook until the skin is dark golden brown and the meat feels firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the duck to a rimmed baking sheet, skin side up. Let rest for 5 minutes. (The meat will be medium rare.) Heat the oven to broil, preferably a low broil setting if you have it.
With another heavy skillet, firmly press down on the almonds until they are all crushed into tiny bits. Spread the crushed almonds in a thin, even layer. Spoon ½ teaspoon honey on the skin side of each duck breast, then press into the almonds. Return to the baking sheet, skin side up. Fill in any gaps with the almonds; the whole skin side should be evenly coated.
Broil until the almonds are toasted and the sugar starts to melt, about 7 minutes. Check on the crust occasionally; you don’t want the almonds to burn before the sugar starts to melt. Remove from the broiler and let rest for 5 minutes.
While the duck rests, heat the sauce over low heat until the sauce emulsifies. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the sauce among serving plates and arrange a duck breast on each.
Reprinted from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Copyright © 2011. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc