Pan-Roasted Long Island Duck Breast with Spaetzle, Chanterelles, and Spinach Purée

This recipe was also served at the dinner party given by Brian Bistrong, the chef at Citarella restaurant in New York City, and his wife, Chieun Ko-Bistrong, a graphic designer, which food writer Melissa Clark attended in 2003. While the preparation looks elaborate, both the spaetzle and spinach puree can be prepared one day in advance, leaving only the sautéing of the duck breasts for last minute.


The richness of this dish requires a luxury level vintage Brut Champagne; recommended bottlings include Bollinger R.D., Roederer Cristal and Krug Clos du Mesnil.

  • For the spaetzle
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
  • Milk, to thin the batter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped herbs, such as chives, parsley, and chervil
  • For the spinach purée
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth (or water)
  • For the duck
  • 4 boned Long Island duck breasts, skin on
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • Cooked spaetzle (see above)

To make the spaetzle: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a bowl with water and ice. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, egg, and crème fraiche. Drizzle in enough milk to form a thick batter. Season with salt and pepper and fold in the fresh herbs. Using a spaetzle maker or stainless steel colander, push the dough through the holes directly into the boiling water. When the spaetzle rise to the surface they are done. Scoop the spaetzle up with a slotted spoon, and plunge into ice water to cool. Strain and toss with a little oil to keep from sticking. These can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in a covered container.

To make the spinach purée: Fill a bowl with water and ice. Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Let the butter bubble until the white milk solids sink to the bottom and turn nut brown, about 4 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft and the shallot is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, and chicken stock.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, then transfer to a metal bowl. Place the bowl in the ice water and stir to cool the purée quickly (this will keep it bright green). Set aside. This can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in a covered container.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the duck: Using a knife, score the duck skin on each breast, making a grid-like pattern. Place the breasts, skin side down, in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slowly render the duck fat until the skin is crisp, about 10 minutes. Flip skin side up, transfer to the oven, and finish cooking, about 6 minutes. Remove, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest. Before serving, slice each breast on the diagonal into thin slices.

To make the mushrooms: While the duck is cooking, warm the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chanterelles and cook, tossing, until they begin to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked spaetzle and continue to cook, tossing, until both mushrooms and spaetzle are crisp.

To serve, reheat the spinach purée in a small pan over low heat. Divide the spinach purée evenly among 4 plates, spooning some spaetzle on top of the puree. Arrange sliced duck breasts over the spaetzle and serve.

Published on December 18, 2009