This duck recipe is simple enough for a weeknight supper, though it is fancy enough for company or a special occasion. If you can’t find duck breasts in the fresh meat section, check the freezer section of your grocery.
The hardest part of the recipe is scoring the skin, which is an important step to release the duck fat. The Cutco Boning Knife, with its thin blade and sharp point, makes it easy to score just the skin, without cutting into the flesh below.
The duck starts cooking on the stovetop in a nonstick skillet and is then transferred to the oven after the skin is crispy. The remaining fond (the brown bits stuck to the pan) is used to make a quick pan sauce while the duck finishes in the oven.
Many people enjoy duck while it is medium rare or rosy-pink inside (with an internal temperature when measured with a thermometer of 135 to 140 F). But be aware that the USDA recommends cooking duck to an internal temperature of 170 F, so check the temperature of the meat with a thermometer before removing it from the oven and remember that the temperature will rise about 5 degrees as the meat rests.
Duck Breasts with Cherry Port Sauce
- 2 boneless duck breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons tawny port or red wine
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 1/2 cup pitted sweet red cherries (thawed if frozen)
- 1 tablespoon chilled butter
- Heat oven to 425 F.
- Score the skin of the duck breasts in a crisscross pattern taking care not to cut into the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Place breasts skin-side down in heavy nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat without disturbing for about 8 minutes or until fat renders out and skin is golden-brown and crisp.
- Transfer breasts to an ovenproof skillet or baking sheet, skin-side down. Place in oven and after 6 minutes turn breasts so that skin is up and finish cooking about 2-4 minutes more for medium-rare, with an internal temperature when measured with a thermometer of 135 to 140 F. Cook an additional 8 minutes for medium (time will vary depending on the thickness of the breasts). NOTE: the USDA recommends cooking duck to an internal temperature of 170 F. Remove from pan and place on cutting board to rest 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add shallot to skillet and stir over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add broth, port or wine and honey, if using. Increase heat to high and boil until sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in cherries and heat through. Whisk in 1 tablespoon cold butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve, thinly slice duck and fan slices out on plates. Spoon sauce over the slices.