Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple “kimchi” with a bourbon-maple gastrique

Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple "kimchi" with a bourbon maple gastrique

This. Was. Amazing. One of the best things I’ve made in awhile.

I’ve talked about Dudley’s on Short in Lexington, KY. I actually had a VERY similar meal there which I blogged recently (Roasted Duck Breast and Dudley’s on Short). My comment was that it might have been a little sweet for my taste. I also want a little heat in things I make.

My wife doesn’t like duck (or rabbit or beef tongue…). So I either eat it at a restaurant or make it while she is out of town. This weekend she was away on business, so I decided to recreate the Dudley’s meal I had.

I basically made the same meal but here are my tweaks. I did NOT peel the sweet potatoes and it worked out great. The peels got a little crunchy which added something missing from the Dudley’s version. I added more watercress because I like it. Instead of pickled apples, I made a quick faux kimchi out of green apples. The kimchi could not have worked out better. It added more sour and a bit of heat, also something missing from the Dudley’s dish. Finally, because I love bourbon, I made the gastrique my own.

Again, this meal was awesome. The rich duck, the not too sweet caramelized sweet potatoes, the watercress that adds earthiness and slightly wilts under the duck and potato, the crunch and bite of the apple and the sweet and sour punch of the bourbon gastrique. Amazing.



  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of watercress
  • 1 large green apple, sliced in thin strips
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter / olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Lemon juice
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper

  1. In a seal-able bowl or Tupperware, add the sliced apple, 1/3 apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper to taste (should be spicy). Cover with a little water, seal and shake until combined. Place in your refrigerator and occasionally shake to mix. The longer this sits, the better it will be so you can do this the day before.
  2. The measurements are approximate but here is my best guess (sorry). In a small sauce pot, add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, pinch of salt and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to reduce until you have a desired consistency, 20-30 minutes.
  3. Set oven to 350 F.
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the potato in the oven. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until tender. Remove and let them cool slightly. Slice ¼ to ½ inch slices.
  5. Butter a backing dish, add the potato slices in a single layer, top with olive oil, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a small dollop of butter. Bake about 10 minutes then flip on the broiler for another 5-10 until sugar is melted and caramelized. Keep warm.
  6. Score the fatty side of the duck breast with cross hatches. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  7. Heat a medium oven proof pan over medium heat. Even before the pan is up to temperature, place the duck breast in the pan fatty side down. Allow the fat to render slowly. Once the fat has rendered and that side is golden brown, reserve all but a couple of tablespoons of the fat and flip the duck. Continue cooking until browned. Check the temperature, I prefer rare (about 130 F) but the USDA recommends 170 F. If the temperature you want is not achieved, add the whole pan to the oven and continue cooking. Allow the duck to cool and slice.
  8. To plate, add a layer of the sweet potatoes on the bottom, top with the watercress, top that will the duck and green apple kimchi. Finally, drizzle the gastrique over everything.
  9. Enjoy!
Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple “kimchi” with a bourbon-maple gastrique

Roasted Duck Breast at Dudley’s on Short

Roasted Duck Breast Dudleys on Short in Lexington, KY

Trips to visit my wife’s family takes us right through Kentucky. I love that part of the drive. Rolling, lush hills. It is a beautiful part of the country. Going up we make the trip from SC in one big drive. Lately we’ve been breaking the trip back in two legs. Why do we do that? Well I’d like to say to lighten the stress of the trip. The real reason is bourbon. Kentucky = Bourbon. I have been a whiskey nut since college and I’ve been collecting whiskey for about 10 years. Anyway, half way home (right about Lexington, KY) puts us smack dab in the middle of The Bourbon Trail. A stay in downtown Lexington can get me to most of my favorite distilleries in 30 minutes to an hours drive. My Mecca.

What does this all have to do with food?

When planning our first trip, as any foodie would do, I started asking where we should eat. A number of folks suggested that we go to Dudley’s on Short. A quick look at the menu and I was sold. Only then did I start looking for a hotel that would provide easy access to the restaurant. We have subsequently been back to that same hotel and the same restuarant several times, each as enjoyable as the last. On our last trip I had Roasted Duck Breast. Dudley’s describes the meal as such:

caramelized sweet potato, pickled apple, watercress, maple gastrique

As with all the meals we’ve had the flavors are honest and restrained. It was maybe a little sweet for my taste but the crust on the duck and the watercress helped some to balance it out. The duck was cooked perfectly (not always easy to do). The sweet potato, apple and the gastrique were all well conceived and complimented each other nicely

This might sound weird but some of our favorite items on the menu are salads. The Kale salad was literally a revelation and we make it at home several times a month. Dudley’s describes the salad here:

dried cherries, pine nuts, lemon, olive oil

Truly, this salad screams restraint. So simply, yet so delicious. If in the area, I recommend Dudley’s on Short. I’ve read some reviews about it being pricey and the “posh” place to be seen, but I would disagree. Dudley’s will be a regular routine for us.

Have you been to Dudley’s on Short? What did you think?

Roasted Duck Breast at Dudley’s on Short

Flank steak, roasted duck fat fingerling potatoes, wilted ramps with pancetta, red wine and balsamic vinegar pan sauce

Flank steak roasted duck fat fingerling potatoes wilted ramps with pancetta red wine and balsamic vinegar pan sauce

ramps 2014This was all about the ramps. Yum! If you’ve never had them, they are sort of a cross between green garlic and green onions. The mouth feel is creamy and the flavor is very bold. Ramps are very hard to find and are only available for a short part of the spring. I found mine back in the spring at a cool little grocery store here in Greenville, Swamp Rabbit Grocery. If you can’t find ramps, you could substitute mustard or collard greens.

Flank is one of my favorite cuts. They are delicious, easy to find and very flavorful. I baked my potatoes after tossing in lovely duck fat (the best).

Funny, I made the recipe you are reading first back in the spring, but since then I recreated (and posted) a similar recipe (Flank Steak, Roasted Sage and Duck Fat Potatoes, Sautéed Kale and Blueberry Balsamic Jus).



  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 1 bag fingerling potatoes, sliced into coins
  • 1 punch ramps, trimmed
  • 1 ¼ inch think cut of pancetta, cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoons duck fat
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Bold red wine (I used a Petite Sirah)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Set the steak out and allow it to come to room temperature (or close). Season with salt and pepper liberally.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 450 and place lined sheet pan in the middle rack.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan over medium high.
  4. Toss in the duck fat and allow it to melt. Add potatoes, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Empty the pan onto the sheet pan in the oven and allow to roast at least 15 minutes. After 15-20 minutes, flip the potatoes on the other side and cook until crispy.
  5. Heat a large stainless steel pan over medium high.
  6. Add the steak to the stainless steel pan. Sear steak both sides 4-5 minutes per side until your preferred doneness. I like them rare. Once done, remove from the pan to a cutting board, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for a least 10 minutes.
  7. In the same non-stick pan, over medium heat, render the pancetta until crispy. Add ramps and toss until the white part is softened a bit and the greens are slightly wilted. Don’t overcook.
  8. Finally, heat the stainless steel pan over medium heat. Add balsamic vinegar and red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the goodies the steak left behind. Increase heat and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and allow to reduce and thicken. Strain the reduction into a smaller pot and keep warm. Enjoy.
Flank steak, roasted duck fat fingerling potatoes, wilted ramps with pancetta, red wine and balsamic vinegar pan sauce

Seared Duck Breast, Herbed Crepe with Mushrooms, Honey-Glazed Baby Carrots, Wilted Kale, Demi-glace

Seared Duck Breast, Herbed Crepe with Mushroom, Honey Glazed Baby Carrots, Wilted Kale with a Demi-glace

When my wife is away I tend to play (in the kitchen). I tend to try new ingredients, recipes or techniques. This particular time I was craving duck. Doing a Google images search (I find a lot of great recipes that way), I found these two images and was totally inspired.

Chef de Cuisine Brett Dufee of Bayona - New Orleans, LA
Seared Duck Breast, Duck Confit Crepe, Wilted Kale, Honey Glazed Carrots, and Date-Molasses Sauce


I only wish I could plate as well as this dish is plated. What you are look at was defined as:

Seared Duck Breast, Duck Confit Crepe, Wilted Kale, Honey Glazed Carrots, and Date-Molasses Sauce.

I gave it a try, but changed it up based on what I could find. Basically I didn’t have any duck confit and didn’t want to take the time to make date-molasses. I end up with; Seared Duck Breast, Herbed Crepe with Mushroom, Honey Glazed Baby Carrots, Wilted Kale with a Demi-glace. Uhhh…Yum. I can’t imagine how good the original Chef’s dish was, but mine was pretty good.


Honey Glazed Carrots Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of baby carrots (I used reqular and purple)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 21 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. In a large pot, heat water to a boil and place the carrots in the steamer. Don’t over cook. Remove and place in ice water then dry.
  2. In a large pan (I used the same one that sauteed the mushrooms in) heat over medium heat.
  3. Melt butter in the pan, add the carrots. Toss then add honey and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm


Wilted Kale Ingredients

  • 1 pound kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crush red pepper flake (or more if you like more heat)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • Salt and peopper

  1. Heat large pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flake. Cook until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add kale and toss. Cook until slightly wilted.
  4. Add stock, toss then cover. Reduce heat to low.


Seared Duck Ingredients

  • 2 duck breasts
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Heat a large pan or skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Score the ducks fatty side with cross-hatches.
  3. Place the duck fat side down and sear until most of the fat is rendered out and flip.
  4. Finish in the oven if need be, I prefer my duck pretty rare. Oh, and by the way, don’t toss that extra duck fat. It is liquid gold.


Demi-Glace Ingredients

  • 1 box of demi-glace

  1. Yep. I totally cheated here. I happen to have a box container that was to expire soon. So I used it.
  2. If you are more motivated then I, the is a great demi-glace recipe by Emeril.


This was a very ornate meal, but like I said the wife was out of town. What else would I be doing. I garnished, as the Chef did with pistachios, mint and edible flowers. I also wanted to give full create to the original creator of this dish. Google images credits, “Chef de Cuisine Brett Dufee of Bayona – New Orleans, LA”. Well done Chef, well done.

Seared Duck Breast, Herbed Crepe with Mushrooms, Honey-Glazed Baby Carrots, Wilted Kale, Demi-glace

Pan Roasted Duck, Slow Roasted Tomato, Duxelle, Crispy Potatoes

Duck, Slow Roasted Tomato, Mushroom Duxelle, Crispy PotatoesOn this day I was feeling French cuisine and I love some duck and happen to have some in the freezer that needed to be eaten. Also, the tomatoes are amazing right now as are the mushrooms. Add, for some crunch, my “go to” crispy potatoes and you have: Pan Roasted Duck, Slow Roasted Tomato, Duxelle, Crispy Potatoes.

Believe it or not this meal was a throw together meal except the Duxelle. By the way, before I go to far along a Duxelle is basically chopped mushroom and herbs sautéed. Back on track…I can’t find fresh duck around here so I usually keep some frozen duck breasts from Whole Foods in the freezer. These particular ones had been there for awhile so they needed to be cooked. Tomatoes have been calling to me this year, especially with a little sea salt, pepper and don’t forget the fresh oregano because it crisps up in an amazing way. The oregano in our herb garden is growing like crazy right now so I am adding it to a lot of things.

almost doneThe meal was awesome, if I do say so myself. The duck…with the fat…uhhh yum! Seriously, the fat on the duck tasted like a REALLY good piece of bacon. The duxelle is so earthy and fresh. The sauce is also earthy and not too over stated. The tomato add the citrusy punch and the potatoes just add a little extra crunch. The second picture was my favorite part (click to enlarge). After I had eaten most of the meal and just a little of each item was left (my mouth is actually watering as I am typing this). Ahhh, the acidity from the tomato, the herbs and earthiness in the mushrooms, the crunch of the potato and the richness of the duck, wow is all I can say.

My notes on this meal: On the tomatoes use fresh oregano and sea salt because it makes a difference. I drizzled a little of the fat from the duck on the potatoes and reserved the rest for future use. If you try this recipe I would love to hear your comments and feedback.



  • 2 boneless skin-on duck breast
  • 6-7 oz of wild mushrooms
  • 3-4 oz button or crimini mushrooms
  • 1 Medium or 2 small Tomato (top and bottom removed)
  • 2 sprigs oregano chopped
  • ½ Yellow bell pepper chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves (2 smashed, 2 diced)
  • 2 medium shallots diced
  • 2 sprigs thyme chopped
  • 1 celery stock large chunks
  • 1 carrot large chunks
  • ½ to ¾ cup red wine (I used Beaujolais)
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups Veal or chicken stock
  • 2 medium potatoes diced (russet or whatever you prefer)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. For the Sauce: Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon olive oil and shallot, a handful of the mushrooms, celery and carrot in large chunks. Sauté 30 sec or so then add garlic and thyme, sauté until veg starts to get color. Add red wine and reduce until thick. Add veal stock and simmer on low (the longer the better). Before serving strain the sauce, add any juice from the rested duck (to come) whisk in a tablespoon of butter and add back some of the big chucks on veg.
  3. For the Potatoes: Dice potatoes pretty small, I’d say 1/8 of on inch cubes. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium to medium high heat. Add potatoes and sauté until brown and salt and pepper to taste and place in the oven. Jen and I really think the crispier the better but just not dried out.
  4. For the Duxelle: Meanwhile, dice finely the mushrooms (cut in long thin strips then into small cubes). Heat a medium sauté pan to medium and add a tablespoon of olive oil with diced shallot, garlic, sauté for about 2 minutes (don’t brown garlic). Add mushrooms and continue sauté until mushrooms are cooked through and aromatic (you’ll know). Remove from heat and add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. For the Duck: Heat a skillet or non-stick pan to medium. On the fat side of the duck breast, with a sharp knife, cut small cross hatch lines through the fat (but not into the meat). Season the meat side with salt and pepper. Once the skillet is hot, add duck breast fat side down and cook for approximately 12-15 minutes. You’ll want to occasionally spoon out the excess fat but keep it, it’s amazing. Flip the breasts and cook for another 1 minute for rare and 2-3 minutes medium. Move the breast to a cutting board to rest.
  6. For the Tomatoes: Meanwhile, cut top and bottom from tomato (if large cut in half) to make a flat surface. Place on parchment paper or silpat or a roasting pan. Sprinkle tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and fresh chopped oregano. Place in oven at 350 for approximately 8 minutes or they become blistered and somewhat soft.


If you have read down this far you deserve this suggestion: Don’t stink up the house with duck fat smell when your fiancée (update: she did marry me, so it wasn’t that bad) isn’t feeling well. It doesn’t work out very well. I suppose it worked out for me, I got twice the duck.

Pan Roasted Duck, Slow Roasted Tomato, Duxelle, Crispy Potatoes