Culture: Pan-Seared Duck with Spiced Baby Carrots | Wine Enthusiast
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Seared duck

Pan-Seared Duck with Spiced Baby Carrots

Courtesy Carenn Mackinnon, wine director/assistant general manager, Carpenters Hall, Austin, TX

Carenn Mackinnon, wine director/assistant general manager at Carpenters Hall, the buzzy new restaurant at The Carpenter Hotel in Austin, Texas, is also a trained cook, which helps explain why the menu so seamlessly merges wine and food. This is one of her favorite ways to showcase spring, when fresh carrots of all shades and sizes come to farmers markets.

For extra heft, Mackinnon recommends serving this dish atop a bed of lentils. Her go-to recipe is an earthy, thyme-infused preparation, but still offers enough of a blank slate to let the simplicity of the duck and freshness of the carrots shine. Beluga or Le Puy lentils will look the most elegant.


12 ounces small carrots (halved lengthwise if more than 1-inch in diameter), peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 6-ounce boneless duck breasts
2 cups arugula
Cooked lentils, to serve (recipe below)
Fresh mint leaves, torn, for garnish


Heat oven to 450˚F. Toss carrots with olive oil, cumin seeds and coriander. Season with salt and spread mixture on sheet pan. Roast until charred but barely cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Score skin side of duck breasts in crosshatch pattern, and season with salt and pepper. Warm large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add duck to pan, skin-side down. Cook until skin is seared and crisp, about 15 minutes. Flip and cook until internal temperature registers 130˚F with meat thermometer, about 3 minutes. Remove duck from pan. Allow to rest.

Toss carrots with arugula and divide between plates. Slice duck breasts and place atop carrots and lentils. Garnish with mint. Serves 2.

Ingredients and Directions for Lentils

Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in small pot over medium-high heat. Add ½ minced small yellow onion and 2 sprigs thyme. Cook until onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and ¾ cup beluga or Le Puy lentils, and stir to coat. Add 1½ cups chicken stock. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until lentils are soft, about 20 minutes. Drain liquid and remove thyme stems. Add salt, to taste.

Pair It

Domaine Tempier 2016 Cuvée Classique (Bandol). “When I cook at home, I want a meal that is both simple yet bold and satisfying,” says Mackinnon. “This Mourvèdre-based blend holds up against the richness of the duck…while the earthy Mediterranean flavors meld perfectly with the balance this  wine achieves.”


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