DUCK: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and turn on the oven hood. Trim away all but a 2-inch strip of fat on the duck. Using a sharp knife, score the fat in a crisscross pattern every 1 inch. Do not cut into the meat. Rub salt and pepper to taste onto all sides of the duck.
Place duck skin-side down in a large, cold, cast-iron (ovenproof) skillet. Place the skillet over high heat (or preheated electric burner) until the breasts begin to sizzle loudly, 2-3 minutes. Immediately place the skillet into the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts.
Using tongs, turn the breasts over. For medium-rare, cook 4-5 minutes longer. An instant-read thermometer should read 140 degrees. Remove the duck from the skillet to a carving board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Carve on the diagonal.
SAUERKRAUT: Heat 1 tablespoon duck or other fat in a saucepan. Add 1 medium onion, chopped, and 1 tart apple, cored, seeded and chopped. Cook until fragrant. Stir in 2 to 3 cups of drained sauerkraut, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a good pinch of caraway seeds and a few peppercorns. Simmer for 15 minutes or turn into a small casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Fan slices of duck onto a bed of the sauerkraut. Accompany with fried potatoes. Serves 2.
QUICK FRUIT SAUCE: Heat 1/2 cup of good cherry preserves in a small saucepan. If you have blueberries in the freezer, add about 1/4 cup. For punch, add 1 or 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses to taste. Simmer about 5 minutes. If you want to thicken, combine 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch with 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or water and stir it in. The sauce should be tart-sweet. Allow to thicken. Makes enough for 2 servings.
WILD MUSHROOMS: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saute pan. Add 1 tablespoon chopped shallot and 1 clove garlic, minced; saute until the shallots are translucent. Add 2 to 3 cups of wild mushrooms, coarsely chopped, and salt and pepper to taste. Add a glug of madeira and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until hardly any liquid remains. Taste for seasoning. Spoon the mushrooms onto warmed serving plates. Arrange sliced duck on top. Makes enough for 2 servings.
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