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Duck breasts with orange-ancho chile sauce

Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Duck breasts with orange-ancho chile sauce
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
1

Toast the chiles in a small dry skillet over moderate heat until slightly darker, turning once with tongs, about 40 seconds total. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl, add the boiling water and soak until softened, about 20 minutes.

2

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a blender. Add 1 cup soaking liquid and the garlic and blend until smooth.

3

Cook the sugar in a dry 1 1/2 -quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until the sugar has melted to a deep golden caramel, about 8 minutes. Carefully add orange and lime juices (caramel will steam vigorously and harden). Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until hardened caramel is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

4

With a sharp paring knife, score the skin, through the fat, on each duck breast in a crosshatch pattern, making score marks about 1 inch apart. Pat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5

Put three breast halves skin sides down in a 12-inch heavy skillet and turn heat to moderate. Cook until skin is well browned, about 10 minutes. Turn over with tongs and cook until meat is browned, about 3 minutes.

6

Return all breast halves to skillet, cover and cook over moderate heat until a thermometer inserted horizontally into center of a breast registers 135 degrees for medium-rare, about 6 minutes. Transfer the duck to a carving board and let stand, uncovered, while you make the sauce. (The duck will continue to cook as it stands.)

7

Add the chile puree and any duck juices from the plate to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Add caramel and any juices accumulated on carving board and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter until incorporated, then whisk in salt to taste.

8

Slice the duck breasts and serve with the sauce.

From “The Gourmet Cookbook.” You will need an instant-read thermometer. The Times Test Kitchen recommends pouring off fat (about one-half cup in our test) from the skillet before making the sauce.

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