Seared Duck Breast with Black Berry Pan Sauce
seared duck

Rendering the fat slowly at a low temperature produces a crispy skin and luscious texture without drying out the flesh of the breast. Not only is it a very simple technique to master it also yields great results.

Seared Duck Breast with Blackberry Pan Sauce and Wild Mushrooms


2 boneless, whole duck breasts

4 ounces (1/2 cup) dry red wine such as pinot noir

4 ounces (1/2 cup) chicken stock, veal stock, or mushroom broth

Coarse sea salt

Black pepper

4 to 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoon sized pieces

1 shallot, sliced

4 ounces wild mushrooms such as shiitake, morels, trumpet, porcini, cremini

Fresh parsley for garnish


Score the skin of the duck breasts with a diamond pattern by making shallow cuts approximately one inch apart diagonally in one direction and then in the other direction. Take care not to cut into the flesh.

Pat the breasts dry and season liberally with sea salt and pepper

Place the breasts skin side down in a cold skillet

Turn the heat to medium under the skillet and allow the breasts to cook undisturbed.

As the heat comes up the skin should begin to bubble and sizzle slightly but it shouldn’t spit or smoke.

Cook on the skin side for about six minutes.

Then turn over and finish cooking until medium rare

Allow to rest for five minutes

While the breast rests prepare the sauce and the mushrooms

Pour most of the duck fat out of the hot skillet reserving it for a later use.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

When the wine has reduced by about half add the stock or broth.

Reduce this mixture until it is almost like syrup

While it is reducing heat another sauté pan and oil with a teaspoon or two of the reserved duck fat.

Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.

Finish the dish

When the sauce is fully reduced working over low heat, add the pieces of cool butter one or two at a time stirring to combine them until the sauce has a glossy appearance. 

Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Slice the duck breast.

Arrange the duck, sauce and mushrooms on warmed plates and serve.


Taffiny Elrod  July 2018

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