It might seem like an extravagance to cook duck for one, but I really stand by it: Duck breast is a staple in my weekly line-up not only because it's fairly cheap for a single cut, but also because it couldn't be easier to cook. Now, I can understand the fear of those who have never cooked duck—or hell, of those who have never even eaten it. It's the kind of meat you order at fancy French restaurants or gawk at in food magazines. But I'm telling you: It's worth trying at home if only to add something new to your after-work repertoire. And as you'll see with this recipe, it doesn't take much at all. If anything, pan-seared duck breast almost asks of you your negligence, as the fat needs time to render in the pan, untouched, left to do what it does best. —Eric Kim
Score the duck’s skin with a cross-hatch pattern, making sure not to pierce the actual flesh underneath. Season both sides with salt and place, skin-side down, in a cold skillet. Turn on the heat to medium-low and let cook on the skin side 10 to 15 minutes, until much of the fat has rendered out. Flip and sear the other side 2 minutes, or until internal temperature of the meat is 135°F, medium-rare. Set aside to rest while you make the pan sauce.
Pour the duck fat out into a glass or ceramic container (save that for potatoes another day), leaving about 1 teaspoon behind. Sauté the white parts of the scallion 1 minute, seasoning with salt. Splash in the Port and frozen blueberries and let reduce until very syrupy, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and fish sauce and let warm through for a few seconds. Take off the heat and add the pat of butter, moving it around constantly until fully melted and sauce is glossy.
Transfer sauce to a plate. Carve the duck breast into thin slices and lay over the sauce. Garnish with the green parts of the scallion and freshly ground black pepper. Eat with roasted potatoes or a side salad, like frisée or radicchio.
Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.