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Alain Ducasse, a French chef of some note, recently wrote a cookbook given the weighty title Nature. While French cuisine is often viewed as a baseline of superb taste and quality, as well as presentation, it is mostly thought of as heavy, unctuous from butter-laden sauces, and heart-stopping at its worst. Then there is that French Paradox which states (with some controversy) that despite their saturated fat-laden cuisine, the French people have one of the lowest incidences of coronary heart disease.

Following in this premise, all of this book’s recipes reflect fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, with a strong emphasis on a more Mediterranean style of cuisine which, let’s face it, most of us are aware as the latest method of enjoying food and eating healthfully. At least we all hope. What new wonders of proper health will we discover in the next few years that contradict this?

Well, if the result of exercise and home cooking results in the healthy weight I currently maintain, additional lightness in my step, and staying as an endomorph or mesomorph body type, I guess I’m doing something correctly.

Eschewing French nomenclature, this dish is called Millet, Porcini, and Smoked Duck Breast (Semoule de millet, cèpes et canard fumé) and while it sounds rather mundane, it was one of the tastiest dishes I’ve eaten lately. Truly, the element that most pulls this dish onto the flavor train are the small bits of crispy duck fat and skin, as well as the smoked duck breast meat itself.

Begin by removing the skin and fat from the duck breast, and dice it into bits which you then render in a skillet to get the fat. Once the bits are crispy, remove all but one tablespoon of duck fat, add the millet and stir into the duck fat, then add your chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the duck breast, slice the mushrooms (porcinis are out of season so I used large white buttons), and sauté in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add minced garlic and minced parsley and warm up. When the millet is done, spread the parsley/mushroom/garlic mixture, sliced duck and fried duck skin bits on the top of the millet. Serve.

Very tasty, simple, and smoked duck breast, ranging from $8-12 for a small one, is available at most savvy grocers.

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