If you’ve never made duck breasts, you’ll be amazed how quick and easy this recipe is. The fruitiness of the blueberry sauce works wonderfully with the rich, crisp duck skin. Serve with asparagus, broccolini or green beans drizzled with olive oil, or use the extra rendered duck fat on the veggies. Ask for mild-flavored Peking duck at your market’s butcher counter.
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For the duck breast:
4 (6-ounce) duck breasts
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon rendered duck fat (what’s left at the bottom of the pan once the duck is cooked)
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Heat a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or a heavy, ovenproof stainless steel pan over medium heat until hot, then turn down to medium-low to sear the duck. While the pan is heating, prepare the duck breast.
- Open the duck breast packages over the sink to drain any juices. Place the duck breasts skin side up on a cutting board. Blot any excess moisture from the skin with paper towels. Turn the duck over and trim any excess skin that is beyond the edges of the breast. Turn the duck over again, and with a sharp knife, create a diamond pattern in the duck skin. Slice through the skin, but not into the meat, at about 1/4-inch intervals.
- When the duck breasts are sliced, season them with the salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Place the breasts skin side down in the hot pan. They should sizzle as they hit the pan surface. Sear the duck skin until crisp and brown, 6 to 8 minutes. You want a deep golden brown color, but watch for burning. If they start to get dark too quickly, turn the heat down. Searing slowly renders out the fat and crisps the skin.
- While the duck is searing, make the sauce (but keep your eye on the duck; peek underneath occasionally to check the color and crispness). Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook 30 seconds longer. Add the blueberries, vinegar and thyme and turn the heat up to medium. Cook the blueberries, stirring, until a juicy sauce starts to form and the vinegar cooks down, 3 to 4 minutes.
- When the duck skin is nicely seared to a golden brown, turn the breasts skin side up and place the pan in the preheated oven for 3 to 6 minutes. Timing will depend on the thickness of the duck breasts. Six-ounce breasts will take about 6 minutes; smaller ones will finish faster. Duck breasts should reach an internal temperature of 160 F when measured with a digital thermometer. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the meat to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
- Slice the duck breasts crosswise into thin slices. Properly cooked duck will still be pink in the middle. Remove 1 tablespoon of the rendered duck fat from the pan and stir it into the blueberry sauce for added richness. Serve 1 sliced duck breast, with 2 tablespoons of sauce, per person.
Nutritional information (per serving)
Makes 4 servings
Fat: 24 g
Saturated fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 180 mg
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 32 g
Carbohydrate: 8 g
Sodium: 260 mg
— Recipe courtesy of Mark Hyman, MD.