When we lived in Paris, we ate duck breast twice a week. It was one of my favorite things about living there. In Paris duck is cheap(er), and among the most delicious meats I’ve ever eaten. To be sure, I fouled (see what I did there:)?) up the duck every time. No seriously, I’ve cooked duck about 20 times and only recently figured out how to cook it without burning it,serving it raw or totally killing it.
I’ve tried to make all the mistakes so that you can get it right the first time. You’re welcome.
My Notes on How to Cook Duck Breast
My one complaint about the duck breasts in America, is that they are almost exclusively the Long Island duck, also known as the Peking duck. And the Long Island duck breast, does not eat like steak. In Paris the duck breasts are from the Moulard duck and are much steakier(that’s a thing, right?). But since in America, 95% of the duck we consume is Long Island, more than likely that’s what you’ll find. Just know that this is why it isn’t as delicious as the magret de canard you get in France.
The best part about duck breasts is the fat. To preserve the integrity of the fat, make sure the breast is dry, dry, dry before you cook it. If there’s too much moisture when you start cooking, you won’t get the crispiness that makes duck so delicious. The best technique I’ve found, so far, is by letting it air dry in the fridge during the day.
Heating your pan properly beforehand will help greatly in getting the skin nice and crispy.
Duck breasts should be cooked medium rare. If you slice open the Long Island duck, it will be hard to tell because the meat is pink and not red (see picture). If it’s too chewy it’s underdone, if it’s not pink at all it’s over done. The moulard duck breast will be red and tender when properly cooked, like filet mignon.
- 2 8 ounce duck breasts
- ½ cup of dry red wine
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- ¼ cup of pomegranate juice (or ½ cup of pomegranate seeds juiced)
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons of cold butter
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- In the morning, remove breasts from packaging. Score the fat, dry thoroughly with a paper towel and sit out on plate in fridge until ready to cook in the evening.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In oven proof skillet, heat pan till mercury ball stage, reduce heat and add oil.
- When the oil is hot add duck breasts skin side down.
- Cook for five minutes on medium high heat, then flip and place skillet in oven for 5-7 minutes.
- Promptly remove and let breasts rest for 5 minutes.
- While breasts are resting, return skillet to stove on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and melt. Then add shallot and sautee for 5 minutes, until golden and soft.
- Deglaze with red wine, being careful to scrape up the sucs, which add considerable flavor to the sauce
- Reduce until syrup like consistency, add chicken broth and reduce again till thick.
- Once sauce is thick add pomegranate juice and reduce again until thick.
- Finish sauce by melting remaining tablespoon of cold butter. Spoon over duck breast.
Are you getting sick of all the pomegranate yet?