Recipe by Paul Dubuque, executive chef, Samuel’s at Andover Inn
4 duck breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ripe pears, halved, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
1 10-ounce bag pearl onions, blanched, peeled, halved
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), boiled until just tender, peeled, cut into 1 ¼-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
¾ cup low-salt chicken broth
½ cup fig balsamic vinegar
Using a small, sharp knife, score duck skin in 1-inch-wide grid pattern. Season duck generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add duck and cook about 6 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil. Discard all but ¼ cup drippings from skillet. Heat drippings in skillet over high heat. Add pears, onions and potatoes; saute until beginning to brown, 5 minutes. Stir in sage, season with salt and pepper. Transfer hash to bowl and cover to keep warm.
Heat same skillet over high heat. Add broth and vinegar, and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil until reduced to glaze, about 5 minutes. Season glaze with salt and pepper.
Butternut Squash Polenta:
¾ cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (12-oz) fresh butternut squash puree (sometimes called winter squash; 1 ½ cups)
2 ½ cups water
2 cups whole milk
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¾ cup instant polenta
1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (½ cup)
Cook onion in 3 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring until very soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in squash and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Bring water, milk, salt and pepper to a boil in a 4-quart heavy pot. Add polenta in a thin stream, whisking. Cook polenta at a bare simmer, stirring with a long-handled whisk and turning down heat as needed to prevent spattering, 5 minutes.
Stir in squash mixture and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Serve immediately.
Divide polenta onto 4 plates, divide hash among plates. Cut duck into ½-inch-thick slices; fan over hash. Drizzle glaze over and serve.
Use orange zest and fresh fig slices for a garnish.