Le magret de canard is French for duck breast, but a true “magret de canard” comes from the meat of ducks that are specially raised to produce foie gras. Because they are particularly fattened, the breasts from these ducks are exceptionally thick and have a beefier taste than ordinary duck meat. A specialty of the South Western provinces of France, magret de canard is often served rare with a sweet and sour sauce to balance out the rich fattiness of the duck meat. In this recipe, magret de canard is pan-fried to make a juicy duck steak and is served with a classic pepper sauce made with five kinds of peppercorns, cognac and port wine, and finally topped with crispy fried potato strings.
The clever thing about this duck steak is that when it gets to the plate, you don’t see any sauce. It is only when you cut into it that the sauce starts flowing. In order to achieve this effect, there is a little trick you must do one day before serving this dish. You must prepare the pepper sauce the night or a day before you plan to serve this dish, and allow it to cool. Once cooled you place the sauce in small plastic ice cube molds and in the freezer to harden.
Before cooking the duck steaks, you make a shallow incision in the center of the steak in the shape of a cross, and with your thumb, you press down and make a pouch where the frozen sauce will fit inside. Once you have inserted the frozen sauce snugly inside the duck steak, you plug the hole with some ground duck meat. The duck steak is then immediately fried in some hot oil on the side of the plugged hole to seal it.
The first thing is to make a classic pepper sauce. Reduce the port wine and cognac until nearly dry. Deglaze with the duck glaze. Add fresh cream, and reduce to a thick sauce consistency. Season with salt and five kinds of peppers. Allow to cool.
Place the sauce in small ice cube molds and into the freezer to harden.
Make a little cross incision in the duck steak and with your thumb, open inside to make a small pouch for putting in the frozen sauce. With a piece of ground duck meat, plug the hole to keep the frozen sauce hidden inside. Immediately fry on the side with the plugged hole. Then turn it over to cook on the other side.
To make crispy straw potatoes, slice potatoes into strings using a mandolin. Shape into flat discs and deep fry in hot oil.
Place the duck steak in the center of the plate, put the fried potato crisp on top and serve.