Duck aiguillettes are thin slices of duck; typically lean bite-sized fillets cut between the duck breast and carcass, and are prepared and served as easy appetizers or hors d’oeuvres. In this recipe, duck aiguillettes are sautéed in butter and served with pears cooked in wine, juniper berries, cloves, and star anise. A subtler cut compared to the magret, duck aiguillette meat tend to be lighter in flavor and color. Duck has a thick layer of fat under their skin and a lot of the grease comes out while cooking; it is not necessary therefore to use oil when cooking duck in the pan, simply use a non-stick frying pan to prevent the meat from attaching to the surface. In this healthy dinner recipe, a bit of butter is used to flavor the duck and give it a nice golden brown color.
This recipe can also be made with duck magrets or duck fillets for a filling and delectable main course. Four pieces of duck aiguillettes can serve one person, while a piece of duck magret or fillet can serve two people. Some mushrooms, particularly chanterelles, and a potato gratin make a good accompaniment to this dish. The duck meat must always be thawed before cooking. To prepare the duck, cut the tendons in the aiguillette to prevent it from becoming smaller when frying or sautéing. Remove any excess fat around the edges of the meat or the fillets.
Ingredients: 2 pears (not too mature), 4 cups red wine (Bergerac), 3 cloves, 6 juniper berries, 1 star-shaped anise, butter, salt, pepper, 16 duck aiguillettes or 2 duck magrets (fillets)
Peel the pears. In a saucepan, simmer the red wine, cloves, juniper berries, and star-anise. Poach the pears in the boiling red wine and drain it out of the liquid. Reduce half of the wine. Prepare the aiguillettes and fry them quickly in butter. Degrease. Cook the pears in the duck cooking juice until the liquid is reduced almost entirely. Add the reduced wine and season. Add a large hazelnut-size scoop of butter to thicken the sauce. Cut the pears in half and core. Place each half on a serving dish with the aiguillettes and cover with sauce.
The skin side should be cooked first until brown so that the liquid fat comes out and fills the pan. This usually takes four to six minutes for smaller cuts and ten to fifteen minutes for larger fillets on medium high heat. When it is sufficiently brown and the pan is covered with grease, turn the dick over to cook the other side. Note that it is normal for the duck to slightly reduce in length and swell in thickness. You will know that the duck is cooked when the juices run clear.