Mediterranean Duck Breast

by Ian Burrow

Laying Mallards.jpg

Here’s me, with my grandparents Lola and Gary, on the day I commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army.

Here’s me, with my grandparents Lola and Gary, on the day I commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army.

My grandfather, Gary, developed an affinity for Asian food when he was in the Navy and stationed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. I always thought it was kinda odd that he loved Asian food. I mean, if you’re stuck somewhere and you have to eat the same type of food day after day, for over a year, why would you - half a decade later - still want to eat the same thing?

Eventually I raised my right hand, too, and I got shipped off to the other side of Asia. Much like my grandfather before me, I was subjected to eating the local food of a place my nation sent me to. Day after day, for a year. I remember vowing to myself that I would never again eat that stuff. But guess what? I developed an affinity for the food to such an extent that I now crave it, weekly. The moral of the story… I’ve grown to love Mediterranean food. Every time I seek it out, or cook it myself, I think of Gary. I think about how young and naive I was to be confused why the man loved the food of a war zone he was stuck in.

I was confused because I didn’t understand the bigger picture. I didn’t underestand how a person’s senses, such as the sense of taste, will bring an instantaneous rush of potent memories. Gary wasn’t just craving a flavor of food when he suggested that we should all go out to eat at a nearby Asian restaurant. He was craving to experience the memories that only those flavors could give him. Every time he dove into a dish with Asian flair, he was really just diving into a memory bank, long suppressed, of a different place and time. I know because I do it too. War will do that to you.

Here’s to Gary, here’s to all the other veterans and grandpas, past and present, in our nation.



Duck Rub

1/4 cup olive oil
4 x cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 TSP of red pepper
1 x TBSP of dried mint flakes
1/4 cup of lemon juice


1 x cup of rice
2 x cups of water
1/2 TSP of fennel
1/2 TSP of cumin
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of walnuts, crushed
1/4 cup of pine nuts


1 x potato, chopped
1 x onion, chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil
4 x cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

By the Numbers

  1. Throw the vegetables in the oven (baking at 350).

  2. Make the rice and leave it on the stove, with the burner set on “low” while you mess with the rest of the meal.

  3. Prep and sear the duck breasts.

  4. Toss the breasts on top of the vegetables and bake for 10 minutes on 175 (give your oven a chance to cool down from baking the vegetables before dropping in the duck breasts).

  5. Fill a bowl with rice, vegetables, sliced duck breast and serve.

The Breakdown

Duck Breasts

  1. Brine your duck breasts with the Public Pursuit Brine for an afternoon. There’s one caveat to that with this particular recipe: add a dash of cumin to the brine.

  2. Chop two cloves of garlic.

  3. Pat the breasts dry with a paper towel and make several small incisions throughout the breasts. Brush the marinade over the breasts.

  4. Now make several small incisions throughout the breasts. Embed the chopped garlic into these incisions, using one clove per breast.

  5. Lubricate your favorite pan with your favorite lubricant and sear the duck breasts (use coconut oil for a sweeter taste, olive oil for a traditional taste, and butter for a heartier taste).

  6. Toss the breasts over the vegetables in the oven and bake on 175 for 10 minutes.

  7. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then slice the breasts.


  1. Make rice.

  2. Add all the ingredients, mix.

  3. Keep covered in the pot on “low” until everything else is ready.


  1. Chop the potatoes and onions, layer the bottom of an oven-friendly dish (I use a Corning Ware dish).

  2. Add all of the other ingredients (listed above under Vegetable Components).

  3. Toss in the oven at 350 for a 30-40 minutes.

Mediterranean Duck Breast