Pan-crisped duck breasts with turnip pickles

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Pan-crisped duck breasts with turnip pickles
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Peel the turnips and cut them into quarter-inch by quarter-inch sticks. Place them in a container.


In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water, the vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt, the sugar, red pepper, mustard seed, coriander seed, peppercorns and bay leaf to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, then set aside to cool for 5 minutes.


Strain the hot liquid over the turnip sticks, seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


Cut a shallow cross-hatching on the skin side of the duck breasts, through the skin but not through the fat to the meat. Season the breasts liberally on both sides with salt and pepper, place on a plate, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.


When ready to cook, remove the duck from the refrigerator to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. When it is almost smoking, pat dry the skin side of the duck breasts with a paper towel and place the breasts skin-side down in the hot pan. Sear until the skin is a deep golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Turn the breasts and cook on the opposite side until they are medium-rare in the center, 3 to 5 minutes more.


Remove the breasts to a carving board; let rest for 10 minutes. Cut on a bias into crosswise slices about a half-inch thick. Divide the slices among the plates and garnish with some well-drained turnip pickles. Serve immediately.

These pickles are a little assertive for eating by themselves, but their piquancy is perfect with duck or pork.

Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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