Duck is one of my favorite foods. And while traveling through France (and also Italy) I ate it as often as possible. I make this combination for myself if I am home alone after a long day and need to take my mind (and tastebuds) back to some of those wonderful moments of travel eating. I have added fresh spring green garlic to the potato recipe because it is just coming to be in season and showing up at the farmer's market. You can make it with green onions instead, or just plain. I like the way the Tarragon adds a little bit of faux-sweetness to the duck breast without making it too heavy and the great thing about this recipe is that the main dishes all can be made relatively quickly (about 1/2 an hour total) The baby souffles can be made ahead and frozen so you just pop one out of the freezer, bake for about 15 mins. and walla! instant (baby dessert). The soufflé recipe is a combination of an adaptation of one I found in Gourmet Magazine and my memory of the wonderful Chef Scooter Kenter’s (of the now defunct “House” restaurant in L.A.) – “Hot Chocolate” -- a molten hot chocolate dessert concoction served in a coffee cup (and eaten on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon when I should have been doing other things...). This version is really creamy and delicious and you would never guess that they are virtually fat free and loaded with minerals and anti-oxidants.
Trim the fat off the duck breast and begin to melt the fat on low heat in medium saucepan.
Meanwhile, score the fat side of the duck in a criss-cross pattern (being careful not to cut through the meat -- just through the fat). Season both sides liberally with salt, fresh ground pepper and tarragon. Press in. Set aside.
When duck fat has melted enough to cover the bottom of the saucepan, remove the fat pieces from the pan, turn the heat up to medium and add the potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook halfway (about 10 mins.) and then add fresh spring garlic. Continue to cook until potatoes are brown and tender (about another ten minutes).
While the potatoes are cooking, place the asparagus on a large cookie sheet and drizzle with the 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat all. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes, tossing halfway through until Asparagus are bright green and just tender.
While asparagus and potatoes are cooking, heat a grill pan to medium heat and place duck breast in pan, fat side down and sear gently about 11-12 minutes until all fat is rendered out and the skin is golden and crisp. Turn heat up to medium-high, flip breast over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest for about 5 minutes. (You should have a juicy medium rare piece of meat -- you may have to vary cooking time according to the thickness of your breast).
Put all on a plate. Shave pecorino over asparagus; sprinkle fresh parsley on potatoes and enjoy with a good glass of red wine. Yum!
Baby Chocolate Souffles
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter 10 - aprox. 2" wide by 2 1/2 inch high espresso cups.
Chop chocolate and melt in double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in yolks. Chocolate will thicken.
Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a large (I like copper) bowl at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in sugar a little at a time (continuing to beat at medium speed). Then when sugar is all incorporated, turn the speed up to high and beat until the whites just form stiff peaks. Stir about one cup of the whites into the stiffened chocolate mixture to soften and then gently and thoroughly fold the chocolate mixture into the whites until fully incorporated and uniform in color.
Spoon into the buttered espresso cups and at this point you can bake one (or more) or cover them with plastic wrap and freeze them to bake later. (If frozen you can keep for 30 days). If baking fresh, bake for about 6-7 mins. -- until tops are high and puffy and inside is still molton-like. If baking from the freezer -- bake for 18 mins. A little tip: if you run your pinky around the inside rim of the souffle before baking or freezing, they will rise more evenly. Enjoy!