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One night the (pre) Oscar winning actor Martin Sheen walked into our tiny kitchen. If it hadn’t been for Bruce the waiter warning us I would not have recognized the man. He was very cool with a wiry build and a no-attitude nearly ‘Navy issue’ haircut asking what ‘exactly’ was it like to be a cook.


Norman Van Aken, © 2012

Yield: Serves 4

Make the Raisin-Pineapple Sauce, (see below)

For the duck:

2 double duck breasts, cut in half and trimmed (you can ask your butcher to do this).

Each side weighs about 1 pound and that serves 2 (so 4 in total). (See note below)

light olive oil, to light rub on the duck breasts

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Score the skin of the duck breasts cutting almost but not into the meat on a diagonal about 1/4-1/2 inch apart going in each direction to effect a cross-hatch pattern. Season the duck with the salt and pepper and rub with a touch of oil all over.

Prepare a medium hot grill. 

Pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.

When the grill is ready lightly oil the grill with a towel to help to keep from the meat sticking.

Place the duck breasts skin (fatty) side down on the grill.  Be careful of the fire because of the fat.  It is precisely because of the fat makes it so damn wonderful and why you must not go beyond medium rare when cooking it. The great French Chef André Daguin taught me this through his Gascon cookbook which I bought in the original French even though I could scarcely read it then.

Grill the duck on the skin side first. You can even stand on its side like I do with thick strips and rib-eye steaks...then on the meaty side or until the breasts are rare in the center.  Now finish them in the oven. (about 7 minutes). If using an instant read thermometer the temp you are looking for is about 125 degrees in the meatiest part. Most websites advise 130 degrees (or more!). That is a crime against the duck. Medium rare is ideal with this section of a duck.

Allow the breasts to rest a few minutes keeping them with an aluminum foil tent before slicing.

For the Raisin-Pineapple Sauce:

Yield: 2 ½ Cups

2 Cups of (cleaned) pineapple, peeled, cored and diced small

1 Cup red wine vinegar

1 Cup light brown sugar

1/2 Cup seedless raisins

1 Cup currant jelly

2 Tablespoons Orange Marmalade

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon lime zest

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 Cup Chicken Stock

Place all of the above in a bowl and mix well.

Now remove it to a heavy saucepan and cook down until syrupy. Reserve. Keep warm or re-heat when needed.

Note: This is amazing with duck, ham and pork but fine for chicken as well.

To Serve:

Slice the Duck into even and somewhat thin slices cross-wise. Serve the sauce draped across the slices or on the side.

Ingredients Note: At the Port of Call we served Long Island Duckling but that was in the days before the ones we get now from purveyors like Ariane Daguin’s “D’Artagnan”.

Norman Van Aken has been described as legendary, visionary and a trailblazer. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.