When I was growing up taco night made a regular appearance in our dinner rotation and taco night always meant ground beef, packet seasoning, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream and tortillas. It was not until later that I realized that the world of tacos was so much bigger and since then I have been kind of obsessed with them. Gone ore the days of the boring plain old tacos as I joyfully experiment with new kinds of tacos. It is with that in mind that I present to you my latest creation, the duck breast tacos with chipotle cherry salsa and goat cheese.
Not too long ago I made a strawberry salsa and I particularly enjoyed how the strawberries worked in a savoury salsa. Ever since I have been thinking about different ways to use fruits and berries to make salsas. Cherries are in season now and so far I had simply been snacking on copious amounts of them. It was finally time to use them in a recipe and one of the first things that came to mind was to use them in a salsa. You know me; I was not going to just make a salsa and leave it at that, I had to use the salsa in something and my obsession with tacos rose its head and I had the rough outline of a plan.
The first question that came to mind was, what meat to use in the tacos? At this point I recalled having seen several recipes for duck breasts served in a cherry sauce and since I had never cooked duck before that immediately made up my mind. With duck chosen as the meet I had a better idea about how I wanted to make the salsa and I quickly fleshed out the recipe by adding fresh basil and a touch of balsamic vinegar to a basic salsa recipe. For the heat I decided to go with chipotle chilies in adobo to add a bit of smokiness to the party. I also decided to puree the salsa to make it more like a sauce. The tacos were almost done and I only needed to round things out by adding some vegetables and some cheese and I went with shredded cabbage tossed lightly in sour cream and creamy goat cheese.
The duck breast tacos with chipotle cherry salsa and goat cheese turned out amazingly well! I really enjoyed how the duck cooked and with most of the fat rendered from beneath the skin, the skin became almost like a crispy, tasty bacon wrapping. All of the flavours in the tacos played wonderfully with each other from the magical duck and cherry combo to the balsamic vinegar to the smoky chipotle heat to the creamy and tangy goat cheese which finished the whole thing off perfectly! I certainly am looking forward to enjoying the leftovers!
Duck Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa and Crumbled Goat Cheese
Duck breast tacos with a chipotle cherry salsa, cabbage and creamy goat cheese.
- 1 pound duck breast
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
- 2 cups chipotle cherry salsa (see below)
- 12 small corn tortillas, lightly toasted
- 2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced and tossed in 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbed
- cress sprouts for garnish (optional)
- Score the skin and fat of the duck breast with a knife trying to cut all the through the fat without cutting into the meat.
- Mix the chipotle chili powder, cumin and salt and rub it into the skin side of the duck breast then cover it and let it sit in the fridge for 20 minutes to over night.
- Heat an oven proof pan over medium heat.
- Place the duck breast into the pan, skin side down and let it cook until the fat has rendered, about 2-3 minutes.
- Place the pan into a preheated 400F/200C oven for 8 minutes.
- Remove and set the duck breast aside and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Drain the excess fat from the pan, add the salsa, deglaze the pan and simmer to remove any excess liquid.
- Assemble the tacos and enjoy.
Chipotle Cherry Salsa
A savoury cherry salsa with the heat and smokiness of chipotle chillies, the freshness of basil and the subtle hint of balsamic vinegar.
- 2 cups cherries, pitted
- 1 chipotle chili in adobo or to taste, chopped
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- 1 handful basil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Puree everything in a food processor until smooth.
- Simmer the salsa to remove excess liquid. (Optional: This salsa is great fresh but if you are going to use it in something like tacos you will want to simmer it a bit to remover the excess liquid.)