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  • Bettina Applewhite

Duck Breast with a Cherry Port Sauce

This year Thanksgiving and Christmas will probably look very different from what you're used to. Many won't be traveling. Families won't be having large gatherings. That does not mean that you can't have a special celebration. This duck breast is ready for your special occasion but is so easy to make that you can make it anytime.

I cannot remember when I first had duck, but I do remember that I was hooked since I've tried it. Duck and lamb and some of my favorite dark meats. What makes the lamb delicious is the duck fat! LOL... Have you tried duck fat fries or potatoes? Once you render the fat off the duck breast, there will be enough for you to toss with some potatoes and roast in the oven. They are delicious. I roasted fingerling potatoes just so they could be as fancy as my duck breast but you can roast any kind of potatoes in the duck fat. They will come out just as delicious.

Cooking a duck breast can be tricky because rendering the fat is what is most important. Duck has a thick layer of fat. But you don't want to remove that fat, instead you want to render it down over low heat so that all that flavor can bathe over the meat. If you cook the meat over high heat, you will run the risk of the fat getting browned or burned but not actually rendering out. Start with a cold skillet. Don't preheat the skillet and let the meat come to room temperature before cooking. Always start with room temp meat.

Cut cross cuts in the duck fat. Make sure that you don't cut into the meat. This step helps the fat to render out evenly and at the pace needed to make a delicious meal. With a sharp knife, cut diagonal lines in the fat. Then turn the duck breast 90 degrees and do the same diagonal cuts crossing over the original cuts.

Put the breast fat side down into a cold pan. Turn the fire on medium low and slowly render out the fat. Once the fat is rendered, turn the breast over and continue to cook either in the oven or stovetop until you get to medium or medium-rare. Save that duck fat to use later. Let the breast rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

I paired this duck breast with a cherry and port sauce. This sauce comes together in just a few minutes but brings a balance of sweetness and savory.

Roasted Duck Breast with Cherry Port Sauce

Serves 2


1 Duck breast

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1 tsp rendered duck fat

1 Tbsp Unsalted butter

1 Shallot, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 Cup Cherries

1 Cup Port wine


  1. Take your duck breast out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature about 1 hour before cooking.

  2. Score the fat of the duck breast in a crosscut fashion. Make sure not to cut into the meat of the breast. Season the breast with salt and pepper on both sides.

  3. Starting with a cold pan (I used a cast iron pan), place the duck breast skin side down in the pan. Turn on the heat on low.

  4. After about 5 minutes, check the duck breast to see if the fat has rendered and if the skin is crispy. Continue to cook 2 - 3 minutes on the skin side if skin isn't crispy and the fat hasn't rendered out enough.

  5. Flip your duck breast over and continue cooking for 3 - 4 minutes for medium rare. Once your duck breast is finished cooking, place on a cutting board to rest for 7 - 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

  6. While the duck breast is finishing, in a small saucepan, heat duck fat and butter until melted. Once butter has melted, add in shallots and garlic. Once softened, add in cherries and port wine.

  7. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Spoon sauce over rested and sliced duck breast and enjoy!


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