Grilled Duck Breast
624 S. La Brea Blvd.
We visited Campanile on Thursday night @ 9:30pm
Dish we will try to cook – Grilled Duck Breast
This was our second visit to Campanile; we dined there previously on a Thursday to enjoy their grilled cheese night, so we knew we were in for something special. Little did we know how special our evening would turn out.
Since it’s DineLA Restaurant week, the place was at capacity. We waited about 15 min. for a table, but didn’t really mind because they gave us complimentary wine to enjoy. The glasses in our hands pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The place itself is the former studio of Charlie Chaplin, built in 1929. Executive Chef Mark Peel, along with former partners Nancy Silverton and Manfred Krankl, bought the building in the late 1980s and renovated it for the restaurant Campanile and the La Brea Bakery next door (they’ve since sold the bakery). The main sitting area is an enclosed courtyard, complete with the original fountain that gives you the feeling of sitting in an outdoor European café. You are surrounded by stonewalls, pillars, and arched doorways which lend the space a castle feeling. Campanile would be a wonderful spot for a romantic date or any special occasion. They also have larger rooms in the back of the restaurant and upstairs that can be reserved for private parties.
Our dinner selections were limited because we were ordering off the DineLA pre fixed menu at $34 a person. However, we could not have enjoyed our meal more. We started with the broccoli soup and the herbed goat cheese ravioli, both of which were outstanding. The soup was smooth and subtle while the ravioli was creamy from the goat cheese, salty from the pancetta and sweet from the currants. For our main courses, we had the Grilled Duck Breast with fennel, thyme-potatoes, and arugula, and the Pan Roasted Tai-Snapper with sautéed escarole and rosemary aioli. It was a hard choice deciding which of the plates to make for this week’s blog. At first we were leaning towards the tai-snapper with its clean, simple, yet full-of-flavor taste. It was cooked with the skin on and lightly drizzled with the aioli. The fish was very well prepared, remaining light and flaky. However, it was the smokiness of the duck that eventually won us over as our favorite dish of the night. Since the menu listed it as grilled, we asked our waitress if it was also smoked. She said a few other people had commented on the smoky flavor and she’d asked the chefs how it was prepared. She later told us that the duck was actually cooked over a wood-burning grill. As with the snapper, the duck was very clean in flavor yet had a complex taste. The meat was extremely tender and almost melted in your mouth. The potatoes, arugula and fennel were a nice compliment to the duck, allowing it to be the main star on the plate. The only inconsistency we noticed was the menu listed “thyme-potatoes” and instead we tasted the thyme on the duck.
We concluded our meal with the apple cobbler and the chocolate pudding. Both of which were delicious but not too sweet. While our wine was superb, we have no idea what it was. The head of house surprised us with a sparkling white wine and a red wine. He had a contagiously friendly personality and checked on us several times through out dinner – even posing for a few photos as we were one of the last tables left at the end of the night. We definitely felt well taken care of and appreciated as patrons of the restaurant.
Overall, we were still talking about our meal the next day. From our experience, there’s probably nothing on the menu that would disappoint. If the duck is being offered on the day you go, definitely order it. And if you want a slightly less expensive experience at Campanile, visit on the weekly Thursday grill cheese night. Either way, you should definitely put Campanile on your list of restaurants to visit, if you haven’t already.
(prices reflect the cost of the package, not the portion we used.) The rest of the ingredients we already had in the kitchen.
Duck Breasts $15.83
Chicken Stock $3.99
Santa Monica Farmer’s Market-
Fingerling Potatoes $2.00
Fennel $1.50 each
Below is the recipe we put together for grilled duck breast. While we grilled our duck on a gas grill, there are several recipes online that can be used to grill it on your stovetop or in the oven.
Makes 2 servings.
Grilled Duck Breast-
1 lb white potatoes, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil (and more to oil baking dish)
Reserved pan drippings from the duck
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and scrub the potatoes. Diagonally cut potatoes into 1/2” pieces.
Oil a 9×12 baking dish. Add the potatoes and lightly coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange potatoes and roast about 30 minutes, or until tender, turning the potatoes at the halfway point.
Add some pan drippings from the duck. Toss around and roast for another 8 minutes on each side. Add salt and pepper to taste.
1TBSP olive oil
3 cups arugula, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium-high, heat a skillet. Coat the skillet with olive oil. Add the arugula and cook until leaves wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Season to taste and add to potatoes.
2 small fennel bulbs
1 TBSP olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash fennel. Split each bulb into 4 pieces lengthwise and core the root from each piece.
Heat a large skillet on medium. Coat the skillet with oil. Lay the fennel down and sauté for about 5-6 minutes, or until just slightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2 Muscovy or Moulard duck breasts, halved with skin
1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
Juice from 1/2 orange
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Vegetable oil (to grease grill grates)
1 Cherry wood Charcoal Companion “Smoke in a Cup”
(or soaked cherry wood chips) for grill
Pat duck breasts dry. With a sharp knife, score skin about 1/2” apart in a crosshatch pattern through fat (do not cut into meat). Lightly coat breasts with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and orange juice.
Next, place the wood chips or the charcoal Companion in a grill. Grease the grill grates with vegetable oil on a paper towel. Preheat grill on medium with the lid on. (Note: if you don’t have a grill, there are other various ways to achieve a smoking method in the convenience of your stove or oven. Click here or here to see various methods from other sites.)
Meanwhile, heat a skillet on medium-high. Once hot, place breasts skin-side down and sear for a few minutes, making the skin golden and crisp. Turn the breasts on the meat side, sprinkle thyme on skin and sear for about a minute. Leave grease in skillet for use in the reduction sauce.
Next, open grill lid (caution, lots of smoke will escape) and place duck breasts skin-side up on grill. Close lid and cook for 2 minutes. Open the lid, flip the breasts, close and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice diagonally to serve.
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stock of celery, chopped
Reserved pan drippings from duck
4 thyme sprigs
Heat duck drippings on medium low. Add onion, carrot, celery, and thyme sprigs. Sautee until vegetables begin to soften. Add stock. Bring liquid to boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 1 hour. Once finished, strain through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the liquid but discarding the vegetables.
Place a serving of potatoes on a plate and add fennel to side. Lay duck slices on the other side of the potatoes and pour reduction sauce over duck and side of plate.
Rating – We give our dish 4 out of 5 stars.
To be honest, we were a little nervous to grill duck. We’ve only cooked duck breast once before and we had a high bar to reach with the smoky flavor of Campanile’s dish. However, we were extremely happy to taste that we’d captured the savory, smoky flavor of the duck breast. Our duck was a bit more grilled which lent it a crispier skin than Campanile’s but the taste was pretty spot on in terms of flavor. The duck breast was tender and by far our most successful “we can cook that” dish (it’s only the third try, but we’re still pretty proud of ourselves.) The potatoes, fennel and arugula were also comparable in taste and texture to Campanile’s dish. And we even felt we figured out the sauce this time around, after struggling to create the sauce on Animal’s flat iron steak. We feel even Charlie Chaplin himself would give us a thumbs up on the recipe.
By the end of the evening, we were happily dining on a recreated dish that we had savored on Thursday night. Grilling duck breast in this manor is definitely going in our repertoire of cooking skills. This recipe would be wonderful for a dinner party as the flavors will impress your guest, yet it isn’t too time intensive to create.
How would you rate our recipe? We look forward to hearing feedback from you guys and feel free to email us if you have any questions on the cooking instructions. Don’t forget to vote for next week’s restaurant!