Friday, November 7, 2014

Pastrami-Spiced Duck Breast "Reuben" – Prepare to Open Face

I first tasted pastrami-spiced, smoked duck breast about 15 years ago, and ever since I’ve wondered how it would be used in a classic Reuben sandwich. I never got around to actually trying it, but this is close, and I’m going to say, way, way better.

This was one of the more delicious and interesting duck breast preparations I’ve had in a very long time. The pastrami spices are perfect with the duck meat, and the crisp, cheesy rye was a worthy base.  The quick slaw and mustard dressing helped balance the richness, and like I said in the video, the final results were stunning.

The key here, as it is with any duck breast recipe, is to not overcooked meat. I like to go about five or six minutes on the skin side, until nice and crusty, and then turn it over and continue until the breast springs back under your touch. Obviously, the cooking times I mention in the video will depend on how large the breasts are. Mine were about 5 ounces, which I found to be the perfect size for this.

If you’re using a thermometer, you’ll want to shoot for about 135–140 internal temperature. This will give you gorgeous, pink, juicy meat, that will rival the finest steak. If you can get past the idea of eating a sandwich with a fork and knife, I really hope you give this amazing pastrami-spiced duck breast Reuben a try soon.  Enjoy!

Ingredients for two portions:
2 duck breast, boneless, skin-on (mine were 5-oz each)
For the rub:
1 tbsp olive oil or more as needed
1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne

For the Reuben:
2 slices rye bread
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon reserved duck fat
2 cups chopped Green cabbage
2-3 tablespoons Russian or Thousand Islands dressing
2 tablespoons mustard dressing (see recipe below)

Mustard dressing:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Judy said...

The only duck I ever remember eating (YEARSSSS ago) was very game-y tasting. You think it was just cooked wrong, or does duck always have some game-ish flavor to it? (I heard you mention that cooking it too well would make it game-y). Thanks! :)

Locomotive_breath said...

Hi Chef

This is something I'm definitely going to try this weekend.

I have a question that is only indirectly related to this, and other videos. How do you manage to keep your stainless steel cookware so shiny? There is nary a blemish or a burnt in spot on your cookware. I spend many hours of slogging away and cannot manage it. What's your secret? Some sort of industrial strength cleaning liquid? A new pan for every video :) ? Hours of elbow grease after every video?

Do tell.



Chris K. said...

Thank you for clarifying the rub technique. I too have found that rubbing breasts with my fingers yields the best results.

Chef John said...

Look at you grabbing at the low hanging fruit. ;)

Chef John said...

Shantanu, I'm going to do a video on that sometime soon!

Judy, I bet it was wild duck which is gameier, and it was probably overcooked as well. Try again!

Azi said...

This looks great Chef!
You just married two of my favorites earth for things – pastrami and duck. I'm going to my favorite online duck supplier (search for "farm fresh duck in PA") to make an order right now...
One question, in the video you mentioned additional salting later, which never happens. Was it just an oversight or is there a reason for the low salt?
Thanks, AG

Chef John said...

Watch agai, as we salted before searing. :)

Zachary G said...

Since pastrami is smoked, could you hot smoke the duck breast? Or would that be too overwhelming?

Chef John said...

Like I said in the post, the first time I had this it was smoked duck, so yes, I think it would work. Just don't overcook!

Food Junkie said...

Looks a bit like steak and definitely priced like it but oh so good. In addition to marvelous flavour depth of smoke paprika I have found that smoked salt adds a real kick of smokey flavour when you don't want to get out the smoker. The best one for the purpose I have found is Salish alder smoked salt. Usually smoked to a dark brown it adds a tremendous kick of smokey flavour. It is great as a finishing salt as you don't need very much to get a lot of flavour.

Azi said...

You're right, This is evidence you can get a brain freeze from overworked salivating glands :)

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John. I was wondering what pan are you using in this video?

Chef John said...

Just an all clad SS.

Unknown said...

Hi CJ, beautiful breasts you have there (hmm). Every time I want to make duck, I go out and get reminded that they cost ~$15/breast around here. The cost seems ludicrous - what do you usually pay for those?

Chef John said...

Sorry, I don't remember the price, I'll have to check
I'm there!

yuejai said...

Do you think sous-viding the duck breast then sear it would work as well?

Thundy said...

If I could offer one piece of advice, maybe add something in the title or description of your post when an overnight marinade is required? It seems like too many times where my wife and I are like, "What's for dinner!", find a great FW recipe like this one, and then cry out when we see that it needs to sit for 12 hours.

Of course we can always make something else delicious, but I would have prepped this duck yesterday if I had known that!!! I want it now :)

<3 FW forever

rancholyn said...

This looks fab!!!
What kind of duck breast did you buy?

Chef John said...

The brand was "Mary's" and it said it was "Pekin Duck"

Unknown said...

I tried this recipe last weekend. It was amazing and my boyfriend loved it too so... I will do it again this weekend.

It tasted like something from a really good fancy restaurant :)