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Question on Searing Duck Breasts

I have some nice ducks breast that I want to sear for duck quesadillas...I've never seared them before & have seen some conflicting methods. I read in some spots to start the breast skin side down (with cross incisions) in a cold pan (so some of the fat renders) and bring the pan up to high heat. In other recipes, it looks as though you put the duck in at medium-high to high heat (same way-cross insicions, fat side down, no additional fat). Suggestions? What makes the skin cripier & works better overall? I want to save some of the rendered fat to fry some potatoes as well..

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  1. I do the cross hatches, add an herb paste, then sear slowly, skin side down. Slowly is important, so the fat can render before the skin gets too brown. About 10 minutes is good. THere should be a large amount of fat in the pan, and the skin should be very brown and crisp. Then flip over and cook for 3-5 minutes on the second side and it's done.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cocktailhour

      Thanks! Do you pour off the fat little by little...like how you would w/ bacon? Or should I not mess w/ it?

      1. re: Teraesa22

        I usually just leave it in the pan while cooking (a spatter screen is useful) - then pour off and strain the fat for future use.

        1. re: Teraesa22

          I wait until the end for both bason and duck. And I save both in the freezer.

        2. re: cocktailhour

          Totally agree score it - and have the fan on high

          1. re: cocktailhour

            Oh Thank you! I was online, asking about how high heat and long to sear the duck for when I found this post :)

          2. I have to confess, I have given up: I pull the skin off and then I can really render the heck out of it and have a totally, through-and-through crispy piece of skin. I cook the meat separately and put the crispy skin in strips on top.

            1. Thanx everyone-the duck rocked...nice & crispy... I'm trying confit next!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Teraesa22

                I'm glad it worked out for you. It's funny, b/c I just finished dinner with some wonderful seared duck breasts, and logged on to post about the method. Your thread must have been in the back of my mind. The method is from Patricia Well's Vegetable Harvest, a book that I have, aside from a couple of dishes, including this one, much maligned.

                The method:

                Heat a frying pan overy medium high heat until very hot. Add the duck breasts, skin side down (having scored the skin, and salted both sides). Turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 8 minutes. Turn skin side up, cook for three minutes, then three minutes more, skin side down. Remove from heat, and let rest for at least 10 minutes ,and up to an hour, covered. (Note, when you let them rest, make sure you place them on the plate skin side up - I wasn't attentive to that, and the skin was less crispy as a result.) Then, slice on the diagonal. The breasts we just had were, possibly, the best duck breasts I've ever eaten (the duck was purchased from Quattro Farms at the USQ Farmer's Market in Manhattan). Served with red pepper jelly and a salad.

                P.S. Confit is so easy and so delicious - make sure to make some rillettes (sp?) w/ it.

              2. Here's what I do: Score the skin and place the unseasoned breasts skin side down in a skillet just large enough to hold them. Turn the heat to low and render the fat, spooning it off every few minutes until the skin just begins to brown at the edges of the cuts. Then remove the breasts from the pan and reserve them until needed for my dish. Even if I'm going to marinate the breasts, I do this step first.

                The idea is to render as much salvageable fat as possible -- for future use and to make the breasts leaner -- without scorching or denaturing it or cooking the meat. Low heat and removing the fat soon after it's rendered is thus the only way to go.

                1 Reply
                1. re: carswell

                  Thanks - I'm going to try that - the fat from my duck breasts was indeed scorched.