I just searched my blog from top to bottom and back again to see if I could find a recipe with photos of the classic French dish called « canard aux navets ». I could not. I can't believe I've been blogging for 11 years and I've never posted about Duck with Turnips — especially since I love glazed turnips.
Usually duck with turnips is made with a whole roasted duck and the standard purple, white-fleshed turnip. What inspired me to make the dish yesterday was two things — we had a couple of very large duck breasts, or magrets de canard, in the freezer, and at the supermarket on Saturday I found some pretty little yellow turnips. One piece of magret was easily enough for the two of us. The yellow turnips were a little smaller than a tennis ball.
All I did to cook the duck breast was to sear it in a hot frying pan, cooking it skin-side down first to render the fat under the skin, which I had scored with a sharp knife to keep the breast from curling. Then I set it in a warm oven to wait while I glazed the turnips, which were first steamed in a steamer pot along with some pearl onions. I sauteed the partially cooked turnips and onions in the duck fat and then added some teriyaki sauce as a glaze. I could have used honey or sugar, but I had made up a batch of teriyaki sauce a few days earlier and decided it would be good in duck with turnips. I laid the duck breast back in the pan, surrounded by the vegetables, covered the pan, and let everything finish cooking that way. Duck breast is served rosé, as we say in France, meaning it is medium-rare. It tastes more like beefsteak than like poultry.
Yellow turnips are not the same thing as rutabagas, but from the little bit of reading I've done there's a lot of confusion about that in the U.S. Rutabagas are also yellow, and they resemble giant turnips, but they are not of the same species as turnips. The navet jaune « boule d'or » is a variety of turnip and its scientific name is Brassica rapa. The rutabaga — known in the U.K. as "swede" because it supposedly came from Scandinavia — is a turnip-cabbage hybrid (Brassica napobrassica), and is called « un rutabaga » in French as in the U.S. It is also sometimes called « le chou-navet ». What I had was not at all rutabaga, but real yellow turnips.