chipotle duck carnitas + habanero cream sauce

duckcarnitasduckcarnitas2duckcarnitas1duckcarnitas3One of my classic woe is me tales of living around the world is the utter lack of delicious Mexican restaurants easily available when a craving of enchiladas verdes or adobo pork carnitas should strike. We poor souls are left to fend for ourselves, but these duck carnitas almost makes up for being far away from Taqueria y Fonda (between 107 & 108 on Amsterdam, people!)…..almost.

This recipe is easy to do but a bit time consuming because you have to slow cook the duck breasts- you could do the duck part the night before or in a slow cooker while you’re at work, but I like it best for a relaxed Sunday meal.

Duck carnitas with habanero cream sauce (for 2):


duck carnitas
2 duck breasts
2 medium white onions, one sliced thinly and one minced
5 or 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 stick Mexican (I know it as Indian) cinnamon
2 tsp table salt
1 medium orange/large clementine
1 tbs reserved duck fat
1/2 cup cooking liquid
1 dried chipotle chili, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes*
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 can diced tomatoes

*if you can’t find chipotle in your country you could used canned chipotle in adobo sauce or a 2 whole dried red peppers, in a pinch

habanero sauce
1 large red bell pepper, cut in half
1 small fresh habanero chili, cut in half
1 tbs reserved duck fat
1 small white onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
4 all spice berries
1 cup heavy cream
4-6 small corn tortillas (it’s almost impossible to find these outside of North/central America so flour tortillas that you cut into smaller ones will probably have to do)

garnishes (optional)
1 tbs minced onion
piment d’espelette

The directions are a bit confusing, but stick with me, I’ve divided them between the duck carnitas and the habanero sauce:

Step 1. DUCK- Pre heat oven to 350 F/180 C. Press the salt in to the skin of the duck breasts. Put duck into a dutch oven, skin side up. Squeeze oranges/clementine juice over the duck and throw skins into pot. Add the sliced onion, garlic and cinnamon cover and put into oven for approx 1 hour/hour fifteen minutes. After duck is finished, use a slotted spoon to discard all vegetables/fruits and cinnamon. Strain cooking liquid and duck fat into a bowl. Remove skin of duck, and using two forks shred it like you would pork for a Po’ boy sandwich.

Step 2. WHILE DUCK IS COOKING, ADMIN- Cut the bell pepper in half, put it on the top shelf in the oven skin side up to roast. Halve habanero and remove stem (and if you are worried about the spice remove the seeds). Toast habanero on a pan without oil, turning with tongs to blacken and blister on all sides. Chop. Remove bell pepper from oven with tongs, let cool a bit, remove seeds and stems and chop into small bits.

Step 3. BACK TO THE DUCK. Heat up 1 tbs of skimmed duck fat into the now empty dutch oven on the stove top. Saute the other onion, garlic, thyme, chipotle and bay leaf for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, cook for a few minutes, then add duck and 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Heat for 10 minutes, and turn off heat and put cover on while you make the sauce.

Step 4. BACK TO THE SAUCE. Take one TBS of duck fat or olive oil if you ran out, saute onion, garlic and all spice berries until translucent. Add the bell pepper, habanero and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add cream and using an immersion blender, blend the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust salt.

Step 5. ASSEMBLY. Assemble and eat as tacos, or divide duck among tortillas and roll with seam side down in an oven safe dish. Pour sauce over enchiladas, along with a sprinkling of minced onion, parsley and piment d’espelette and heat in oven at 350 F/180 C for 10 min. Enjoy!

recipe modified from: Tacos, tortas and tamales.


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