Duck Breast with Shitake Mushroom Risotto

Shitake Mushroom & Almond Risotto with Star Anise Duck Breast

Another quick post here because I’m running behind and no doubt my hordes of loyal readers are clicking refresh each morning only to form a look of disdain as the same tired rhetoric comes up.

A simple seared duck breast and shitake mushroom risotto. The duck breast was rubbed with a spice mixture that I guess might almost equate to Chinese Five Spice if you broke it down. There was Star Anise, Cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds…so ok… four spice if you want to be picky. Dry roasted them in a pan and crushed in the mortar and pestle and then rubbed it into the duck on the skin side. Season with a little olive oil and salt (for good luck), and then place into a hot pan skin side down to sear. Once the skin is nice and crispy, flip it over and seal the bottom, before popping it into the oven to finish off.

The Shitake mushrooms I used were dried. So I soaked them in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes before using them. This had the added benefit of giving me some intense mushroom flavoured water to use in the stock, which was topped up with chicken stock and white wine.

The risotto is made as you would any other. Leeks, onion, garlic, sweat…add rice, coat, add stock x lots, add mushrooms and other bits towards the end, wait til its getting soft but still has a bit of bite… and you’re done.

One thing I have noticed is that if you leave it too long to serve and eat your risotto then it will continue cooking from the heat trapped in the body of rice, and pretty soon you’ll have overcooked stodgy rice puffs, rather than the creamy smooth risotto of 10 minutes beforehand.

Shitake Mushroom & Almond Risotto with Star Anise Duck Breast Star Anise Seared Duck Breast

So after the risotto is done, slice your duck breast in nice sexy little pieces, and layer lovingly on top of the plate, with a sprig or two of fresh coriander for decoration and sensory juxtaposition.

11 thoughts on “Duck Breast with Shitake Mushroom Risotto”

  1. Looks great – where did you find the duck breasts? I’ve tried a couple of butchers with no luck.

    I usually turn the risotto off when it’s still a bit underdone and leave it with the lid on. It gives me time to plate up or clean up what ever else is happening and after 5-10 minutes its perfect.

    Keep on cooking!

  2. Hi Tracey,

    As I said in a flickr comment recently…I’ve taken to having linguistic battles with my local Chinese butchers (Wing Hong on William St in Northbridge)…where they try and pretend they don’t understand me, and I try and pretend they do. We eventually work it out and I get cheap meat and duck at a fraction of the price of the english speaking equivalent.

    Definitely worth taking a look.

  3. Lovely duck. My favorite fowl, but I’ve never prepared it myself. I really like the idea of rubbing the breast with spice as opposed to the skin. I’ve done that with garlic, but never with the actual spices. I am inspired.

  4. I had this AMAZING truffle risotto with tiny shreds of a semi-dried pork sausage as my big ‘lash-out-and-spend’ dinner in Florence. I’ve been mucking around trying to work out how I can get as amazing a mushroom flavour since. Iteration #6 last weekend was garbage; used chopped mushrooms soaked in water, strained them off, then added dried mushrooms. Iteration #5, before it, was the best so far … the risotto actually tasted more intensely mushroomy than pure mushrooms! A bit unorthodox, though … basically, I took $#!tloads of swiss browns, pulled out my chinese razorblade-style cleaver and reduced them down to dust (yes, that’s a lot of chopping). Brought water to the boil, dumped all of the mushroom in, turned off the heat and let it sit for a few hours. No other ingredients. I used that as the basis for the risotto, tiny soaked mushroom bits and all. It actually turned out to be fantastic! I’d be interested to hear what you reckon …

  5. Hey Luca, sounds like you basically made a concentrated mushroom stock. In the end risotto is all about the stock… and the flavour you want to come through in the end has got to be there.

    I can’t say I’m the worlds biggest mushroom fan… So this one was bordering on the limits of mushroominess that I can handle… but I applaud your efforts to improve redefine the dish :)

    I’ve been changing my methods recently too, going for more liquid, more bite, and a little more contrast in the flavours… I look at these photos now and think how stodgy it seems… although the duck breast was unreal.

  6. Hey Matt,
    I’m doing my grocery shopping (online) and I want to attempt making duck for the first time. Maybe I was inspired by you, because I started thinking what I’d serve with it and decided on risotto (which I’ve been enjoying toying with a bit lately). Anyway, I came up with a pondering that I thought I’d run by you, see what your take is. Last time I made risotto, we had a decent amount of leftovers, which I used a few days later by shaping into cakes and frying them. (Recipe and pictures here: My question is: how do you think a shiitake risotto would work in a similar application? I anticipate having leftovers of risotto again but want to make sure they’re viable to be “re-badged” for consumption. (I’ve mentioned my boyfriend doesn’t like leftovers… he’ll eat them if I spruce them up/disguise them so they don’t seem as leftover-ish.) Thanks for any help you can give, any suggestions or other :) (besides “Don’t make so much risotto”!)

  7. Hey Yvo,

    You’re tempting the wrath of my sarcasm here aren’t you ? First and foremost, I would never plan a meal or modify a recipe just to make sure it’s going to be useable as left overs (!!), and secondly… why make so much ?? :)

    On a serious note… I think shiitake are far too good to waste as fillers to rice balls, although I can’t see why it wouldn’t work… just to me it would be like turning wagyu steak into mince meat and making burgers out of it… Possible, but completely missing the point. The fun of left overs is the mystery involved, and the spontaneity of making it up as you go along… So please don’t start changing your risotto to work like that.

    The cheese in a shiitake risotto could work… depends how heavy you want it to be really…but with the earthiness of the mushrooms, you really don’t need it. I’ve started using less parmesan (and/or peccorino) in my risotto lately, in favour of butter, lemon juice, lime juice… or a few other things I can find, which give a fresher feeling. I generally use carnaroli rice which I think has a high starch content than arborio…and gives a really creamy texture without needing much else.

    Let me know how it goes :)

  8. Hey Matt, thanks for your help. As for sarcasm, well, once you unleash yours, mine will come out to play, too. That could be fun, but for now, I’m being serious…
    Eh, the risotto-cake-question was just a random pondering. It’s entirely possible we’ll wind up eating all of the risotto, but highly unlikely. Honestly my question about cheese was more because as I mentioned, I’ve only made risotto twice now and both times were fairly plain applications with cheese. Since I avoid mixing dairy with citrus, I’ll try the lemon or lime juice approach this time instead of cheese (and butter? Um… There’s already butter in my risotto, hehe!). Thanks! I’m semi-new at cooking with more “exotic” ingredients, which is why I’m shaky on the shiitakes (despite having grown up eating them…). I couldn’t imagine parmesan really going with shiitake that well… Thanks for your help, I’ll let you know how it goes (but I plan on making this on Tuesday night, so gotta wait it out!).

  9. I realise that this is possibly a few years late, but: when you make risotto, about a minute before it’s perfectly al dente remove it from the heat and spread it as thinly as you can on a tray that transfers heat very well(aluminium if you can, copper is better but who has copper roasting trays?)It cools VERY fast and that stops the cooking. Also, then portioning becomes a matter of cutting out a square and warming. Easy to use, easy to store. OLD restaurant trick.

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