Duck Breasts with Orange-Ancho Chile Sauce

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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3 dried ancho chiles (1 1/4 oz)
2 cups boiling water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
6 (1/2-pound) Muscovy duck breast halves (also called magrets), rinsed and patted dry
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter


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

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

Cook 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 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.

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

Put 3 breast helves 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. Transfer to a plate and brown remaining 3 breast halves in same manner.

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

Add chile puree and any duck juices from plate to 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 more. Whisk in butter until incorporated, then whisk in salt to taste.

Slice duck breasts and serve with sauce.

Note: The USDA recommends cooking the duck breasts to an internal temperature of 170°F to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed. Gourmet prefers medium-rare meat cooked to 135°F.

Serves 6.

From Gourmet.