makes 6 servings
3 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
2 tablespoons brandy
1 1/2 cups (packed) pitted dates (about 10 ounces)
1 1/4 cups (or more) water
8 cups water
1 cup black, green, or brown lentils
4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
2 bay leaves
7 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil, divided
1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 1-pound Muscovy duck breast halves with skin
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
For bacon-date puree: Sauté bacon in small saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Stir in brandy, scraping up browned bits. Add dates and 1 1/4 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until dates are very soft, about 12 minutes. Transfer to blender. Puree date mixture until smooth, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if too thick to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Date puree can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
For lentils: Place 8 cups water, lentils, garlic, and bay leaves in medium saucepan. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are just tender but still firm to bite, about 15 minutes or longer, depending on type of lentils. Drain; rinse under cold water to cool. Drain; discard garlic and bay leaves. Transfer to large bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, and 1/3 cup shallots. Sauté until carrots and celery are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Stir carrot mixture into lentils. Mix remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons shallots and red wine vinegar in small bowl. Let mixture soak 5 minutes, then whisk in remaining 6 tablespoons oil. Add vinaigrette to lentil mixture; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Using sharp knife, score skin of duck breasts diagonally to create 3/4-inchwide diamond pattern. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 large skillet and 1 medium skillet over medium-high heat. Place 2 duck breasts in large skillet and 1 duck breast in medium skillet, skin side down. Cook until skin is brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Turn duck, skin side up, and cook until brown and thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 130°F, about 6 minutes.
Transfer duck to work surface. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from 1 skillet. Add shallot and sauté until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add Sherry vinegar and stir, scraping up browned bits. Add broth; bring to boil. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Thinly slice duck breasts. Spoon 1/4 cup date puree in center of each of 6 plates and spread with back of spoon, forming well in center; spoon lentils into each well. Place duck breast slices atop lentils, dividing equally. Drizzle sauce over and serve.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Blue Velvet Restaurant, 750 Garland Avenue #102, Los Angeles, California 90017-4521, (213) 239-0061