Friday, November 15, 2013

Pack' s Landing Duck Breasts

There is a special place deep in the woods accessible only by boat.  It was built by several gentlemen from Sumter several years ago to escape from work, reunite with
friends, family and nature.  Verne Newman, one of my closest friends and a draftsman by trade, designed a cabin in the woods.  It can best be described as "architecture in the woods."  A two story cabin with running water, a four burner stove, a shower if you like, a front porch with a fire pit and seconds away from duck and hog hunting, and some of the best fresh water fishing in S.C. 

Verne and I had a lot to catch up on since we haven't seen much of each other since last year's Dove Season.  We were to leave after work and settle at the cabin for some seared duck breasts, red wine and a fire.  Catch a good nights sleep and return to work in the morning.  Easy cooking and relaxation for 2.  What transpired next took me off guard.  Verne likes to text.  He text "it will be 4", "then 6", "then 8"!  Luckily, I had just scored 8 duck breasts, skin on, from Maple Leaf Farms.

Maple Leaf Farms' Duck Breasts
I buy mine from 5 Star Distributing and Mike Mazzante will deliver to your home or office.  They are thick and juicy with nice fat content that makes a great crispy skin when scored the correct way.

We left out of Verne's cousins landing called Pack's Landing - check it out on Facebook.  We were spending the night at the cabin so we left our truck in the trusty leadership of two Labrador retrievers - Black Duck and Killer.  The Chevy was in good hands.

We putted across the flats of Pack's through all the stumps and structure to end up at our destination.  The scenery was magical as always.  There are no words to describe the beauty of this swamp, but I did manage to take some good pictures.  Most say they go here to escape reality.  We go there to get to reality.

We meet up with the gang for the night at the cabin and I started my prep work while they solved the problems of the world.

I like to derive my menu's from the season at hand.  I stopped by Bradley's Market to check out what Robert Bradley had purchased that day.  He bought some heirloom tomatoes from Lexington, SC. 

A great fall crop that produced a tomato with great acidity flavor and colors of deep purple, green and red.  I thought these would make a great tomato salad for a side dish.  Bradley's had no shortage of fresh apples - about 10 varieties.  I settled on the Honey Crisp Apples.  I needed a sauce for the duck, so I kept it seasonal with some apple cider and splash of Bourbon since I'm sure that would be present at the cabin. 
I grabbed a few bags of Cole Slaw mixture and applewood smoked bacon from the grocery store and loaded the Yeti with my meal.  The menu would consist of : Pan seared duck breast with an apple cider & Bourbon sauce, heirloom tomato salad and cabbage with applewood smoked bacon and sweet onion.

After a few toddies, the gentleman assembly was telling true and untrue - no harm done either way.  David delivered a great blessing before supper and we broke bread, drank some wonderful red wine that paired nicely with the duck. 

We laughed a lot which was great for the soul and ease the pain of having to leave Pack's to go back to work the next morning.

There is something about being in the swamp and eating duck.  Try and keep your sauces seasonal and don't be afraid to try making up your sides by what's in season.  Enjoy the pictures of the swamp.

Eat good and dress well!
Chip Bracalente - T.P.H.E.

Pan Seared Duck Breasts with Apple Cider & Bourbon Sauce

6-8 large duck breast halves, skin on or off
3 Tbsp. grape seed oil
1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Tsp. Garlic powder
1/2 Tsp. black pepper (course)
2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup Bourbon
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
3 - 4 Tbsp. chilled butter
1/4 cup green onions, shredded
1 firm apple, cut into matchsticks
Score duck breasts without touching the meat.
Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet to medium high.  Season duck with salt, pepper, garlic powder.  Add duck to pan skin side down for 4 - 6 minutes or until skin is crispy and browned.

 Flip and cook to rare to medium rare.  Remove and place on a cutting board to rest.

Add cider, Bourbon and lemon juice and reduce liquid to 1/4 cup.  Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter until emulsified.
Slice duck, arrange on top of the cabbage mixture on plate, spoon sauce over and top with onions and apple match sticks.

Tomato Salad

This salad is good with duck, but also makes a great side to chicken dishes.  It's the simplest ingredients but the flavor is phenomenal.  One of my favorites.
4 - 6 Heirloom or other ripe tomatoes cut into 1/4" squares
10 basil leaves fresh, diced
1/2 cup Feta cheese (optional)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar
Pinch Kosher salt
Incorporate all ingredients and add a pinch of salt.  Serve room temperature.

Cabbage & Carrots with Applewood Smoked Bacon & Sweet Onions
This is a great side dish for duck and pork.  In the swamp or camping it's easy to grab Cole Slaw mixture and throw it in the cooler.
3 bags Cole Slaw mixture (cabbage, carrots, purple cabbage)
1/2 lb. of Applewood Smoked Bacon (Wright's thick cut) diced into 1/4" cubes
2 sweet onions diced
1/8 cup Apple Cider or white wine
Cook bacon over medium to low heat until almost crispy.  Remove and place to the side on paper towels.
Place diced onions in bacon grease and sauté.  Place Cole Slaw mixture in bacon grease with the onions and sauté for 2 minutes - add bacon pieces back to pan and add Apple Cider or white wine and let liquid reduce.  Can cover with lid to keep warm.


Eat good and dress well!
Chip Bracalente - T.P.H.E.

More Pictures - Enjoy





  1. Nice place to hang out and great food to spend the night. Hope you visit us with your friends and try different natures at Nicaragua Dove and Duck Hunting.

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  3. Great post today. An interesting read for any person who would agree with your views. Long may these posts goose hunt