VAMPIRE'S BLOODY GOOD 5-SPICE DUCK

By: Heather Trim

Chinese spiced duck gets topped with a sweet-sour compote. Make and refrigerate the compote up to 2 days in advance and cook the duck up to 1 day in advance.

2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil
¼ cup (50 mL) diced onion
½ cup (125 mL) port or Marsala
½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped cranberries
2 tbsp (25 mL) honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1 small ripe but firm pear, diced
Salt and black pepper to taste
One 12 oz (375 g) duck breast
1 tsp (5 mL) Chinese 5-spice powder
24 thin baguette slices

1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add port, cranberries, honey, vinegar, cinnamon and 1 sprig thyme. Gently boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally until about 2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid remains, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on frying pan. Add pear and stir until mixture is thick, 2 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

2. Score duck skin through fat, crosswise and lengthwise every ¼-inch (5-cm). Rub 5-spice powder into both sides of duck, then generously season both sides with salt. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat without adding any fat to the pan. When pan is hot, set duck breast in pan, fat-side down. Cook until skin is very crispy, 10 to 15 minutes, draining fat every 5 minutes and reducing heat if skin begins to burn. Turn duck and continue to cook 7 to 8 more minutes. Duck should be rare. Remove from heat, cool, then wrap and refrigerate for easier slicing.

3. Thinly slice duck and place on a baguette slice, then top with a dollop of compote and a few fresh thyme leaves.

Makes 24