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Main course

Seared duck breast with

sharp cheddar polenta and

pale ale butterscotch sauce

Daniel Dean

Head chef, Bitter Root Brewery

101 Marcus Street, Hamilton

Food for thought: Before becoming head chef at Bitter Root Brewery, Daniel worked at the Stock Farm and specialized in fine dining. That comes through in this recipe, which, he says, delicately highlights the flavors of the cheese, beer and meat. And while it's not the sort of thing you'll find at the brewery, it does indicate the level of culinary creativity Daniel brings to standard pub fare. This recipe serves 10.

What you'll need:

For the polenta:

1/4 cup butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts chicken stock

2 cups coarse yellow corn meal

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

6 oz. sharp cheddar, grated

For the pale ale butterscotch sauce:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 pound butter

1 quart heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups pale ale

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cold water

For the duck:

Duck breasts

Salt and pepper

How to make it:

To make the sauce, heat sugar on medium until it turns a light golden brown. Add butter and stir continuously until both butter and sugar are golden brown. (Be careful not to burn it.) Add the beer and salt and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out and the sugar is dissolved in the liquid. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch with cold water to make slurry. Whisk in slurry and simmer sauce for 5–10 minutes.

Start with the polenta by heating butter in a stockpot on medium heat. Lightly sauté garlic until golden brown. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in corn meal. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium, stirring often, until smooth and creamy. Take off heat and fold in sharp cheddar. Serve immediately.

The duck breasts are the easiest part. (Note: If possible, wild duck is much better than domestic.) Season cleaned duck breasts with salt and pepper and sear skin-side down in a hot pan until golden brown on both sides. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and finish duck breasts in oven for 6–8 minutes until 155 degrees. Time it to serve with the polenta.

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