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Seared duck breast with lavender-marjoram-rosemary essence

4 duck breasts, de-boned, skin intact but trimmed and scored
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup duck stock
1 tsp. fresh lavender blossoms, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh marjoram leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
1 tbsp. cold butter
Herb sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle duck breasts with salt and pepper then heat a large sauté pan over high heat. When hot, place duck breasts in pan, skin side down. Sear in pan for 3 or 4 minutes, or until skin is nicely browned. Turn breasts over in the pan and place pan in hot oven. Roast breasts for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until just slightly rarer than you’d like (the breasts will “finish” while they rest). Remove breasts to a plate, cover them with foil and allow them to rest in a warm place while sauce is prepared. Meanwhile, drain most of the fat from the hot sauté pan, reserving about 2 tbsp. Add the shallots and sauté over medium-high heat until translucent. Add the red wine to the pan and increase the heat to high. When wine has almost completely reduced, add the duck stock and allow the stock to reduce by two thirds. Whisk the herbs into the sauce, then the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Quickly slice the duck breasts on the diagonal and place onto four hot serving plates. Top each breast with a couple tablespoons of sauce, an herb sprig and serve immediately.* Serves 4.

*These duck breasts are excellent when served with wild rice or mushroom risotto.

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