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Feb 9, 2012 10:13 AM

Seeking guidance on duck breasts

I plan on making duck breasts for Valentines Day. I'd really like to make an orange-chili sauce to go with it, but I'm finding surprisingly few recipes like this. Any suggestions? Id like to use dried chilies, but I'll take all suggestions. I'm fine with all types of cuisine.

It's my first time making duck, so cooking tips are also welcome.


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  1. Pan seared duck breast with spicy orange-chili sweet and sour glaze.

    Two duck breasts
    Spice mixture consisting of one teaspoon coriander and half as much cumin and cinnamon

    One cup orange juice
    One whole orange
    One quarter cup rice wine vinegar
    One quarter cup sugar
    One garlic clove chopped, equal part fresh ginger chopped
    One shallot (or equal amount sweet onion) chopped small
    One teaspoon corn starch
    Dried chilies of your choice in a quantity that suits your desired heat level
    Pasilla or Guajillo preferred or chipotle, even fresh jalapeno or pablano works

    Pat the duck breast dry with a paper towel and lay on a cutting board skin side down. Trim away any fat that extends outside the profile of the meat. Carefully trim away any silverskin, this is not essential. Turn the duck over and with a very sharp knife score the skin in a way that does not cut into the meat, but does increase the surface area of the duck fat. Season the duck skin and meat with salt, pepper and spice mixture. In preparation for the sauce; zest the orange and combine with OJ, vinegar, cornstarch, and chilies.

    Heat a fry pan to med-high heat and add the duck breast fat side down. Immediately turn the heat to med or med-low and cook for about 10 minutes this way without turning the duck over. The skin should brown, shrink in size, and become crispy. Once this has happened turn the duck over and cook the meat side over med-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the duck from the pan and rest on a paper towel.

    Pour all but a teaspoon worth of fat from the pan and return to medium heat. Don’t wipe the pan out the spice mixture is that is on the duck is welcome in the sauce. Add the garlic, ginger, shallot and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender and starting to brown. Add the sugar to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes till the sugar melts and begins to brown. Quickly add the liquids mixture and stir to combine everything. Bring this mixture to a boil and reduce to desired thickness which should take about 5 minutes.

    Slice the duck breast thin. You should get between 8-12 slices. If it appears the duck is too rare for your liking pour the sauce straight from the pan over the sliced breast. If the duck is perfect don’t cover the duck with the sauce serve it on the side, or under the meat if you are presenting a plated dish. If the duck is slightly overcooked let the sauce cool slightly then pour it over the duck and no one will know the better.

    This dish would be complete with sautéed Swiss chard and brown rice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikey031

      This sounds perfect! Thank you!


      I love Suzanne Goin's method for cooking duck breasts in a cast iron skillet. Details missing in that post -- you heat the skillet for a couple of minutes first, and you also score the duck breasts. Happy to take a look at the recipe to post any other missing details if you like.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        Thanks for this, looks to be very helpful.

        1. re: jav308

          Assuming each duck breast is about 1 lb: I don't preheat the pan (I use a de Bruyere) but do score the duck and trim the "tender" along with any blue-colored undercoat. The timing:
          17 minutes at medium heat, turn, and 2 minutes at high heat. Usually results in medium rare--could go for less at high if you prefer more on the rare side. Do pour off the fat as you cook otherwise you will have lots of smoke.

          1. re: penthouse pup

            Wow. Each breast is about 1lb? You must have enormous ducks in your part of the world.

            My supermarket sells packs of two breasts weighing in at a total of 300 - 350g which I calculate is about 0.75 pound.

            1. re: Harters

              The most common duck found in U.S. markets is farm raised Muscovey duck. You might find wild or farmed Peking duck, the later being much larger than the Muscovey. With respect to purchasing duck breast in a restaurant setting I can easily buy either a 6-8 ounce average or a 8-10 ounce average sized breast. The smaller spec. is a bit less expensive and most likely what can be found in the average butcher/supermarket and like Haters pointed out, 2 pcs of 6 oz each duck breast would be roughly 0.75 pounds.

              1. re: Harters

                Yessir, these be the supersized United States of America where them ducks grow purty big...and as Mikey attests, the Muscovy hybrid produces pieces of that weight.
                Usually, one is enough for two diners...