Sauteed Duck Breasts with Rum & Dried Cherry Sauce

"INN The Kitchen at Abingdon Manor"
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Entrees: Sauteed Duck Breasts with Rum & Dried Cherry Sauce

1/2 cup dried cherries
2 whole boneless duck breasts, about 12 ounces each, trimmed and split, scored 3-4 times diagonally
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbs butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Place the cherries in a small heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes, drain and set a side. Preheat oven to the lowest possible temperature. Place a plate in the oven for keeping the cooked breasts warm while making the sauce. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the butter in a heavy skillet measuring at least 9 inches across the bottom. Swirl the skillet until the butter is melted. Continue to heat until the butter stops foaming and has just begun to color. Lay the duck breasts in the skillet, skin side down. Maintain medium high heat, so the fat sizzles but does not smoke, and saute the breaks until the skin is crisp and well browned, 8-10 minutes. If the skin starts to brown too quickly, turn the heat down to medium. Quickly drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Turn the breast with tongs and cook 4-5 minutes until medium rare. Transfer to warm plate and keep in oven until ready to serve. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan, being careful to leave the browned bits behind. Add the shallots, cherries and the sugar and saute until the shallot is softened, 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the rum and stock, and scrape the skillet to loosen any of the brown bits. Add the cream and boil until the liquid reduces to about 1/3 cup, about 3 mintues. Add any accumulated juice from the plate with the duck, reduce the sauce again to 1/3 cup. Remove the breasts from the oven, slice and spoon the sauce over and serve immediately.


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