Sauteed Duck Breast with Dried Cherry Pan Sauce


My dad was an avid golfer, and on many weekends, while he’d play 18-holes at the Bonita Golf Course, my mom would take my sisters and I for long walks.  There was a track along the perimeter of the golf course that we’d walk along, and we eventually would walk off the track to play at a neighboring park, to watch residents riding horses, to observe wildlife like birds, squirrels, families of possums sleeping upside down, holding onto tree branches with their tails, and, of course, ducks.  One of my favorite activities was feeding the ducks.  This was until I was about 10 years old.

When I was about 10 years old, my family and my parents’ friends’ families frequented a Chinese restaurant (can’t remember the name), where I experienced cooked duck for the very first time.  I remember being a little hesitant to take my first bite.  I loved playing with, being around, and feeding ducks at the golf course.  My dad told me I had to try it, so I sadly picked up a piece with my fork.  As I slowly opened my mouth to take a bite, I envisioned feeding the beautiful ducks at the golf course.  Once I popped the Chinese-style cooked duck in my mouth, I didn’t regret it – I thought it was absolutely delicious and from then on, I never looked at ducks the same way.  Duck is delicious.

Due to my father’s diabetes getting a bit out of control, we stopped going to that restaurant a few years later, and my mom tried cooking more lean dishes consisting mostly of defatted chicken and fish.  For years, I’ve been in a lot of control of my diet and exercise and I try really hard to stay at 130 pounds or lower- it’s a healthy weight for me.

I haven’t checked my weight since I started culinary school, and I haven’t held back on what I eat, so I’m sure I’m beyond my normal weight and am committed to get back down soon.

In order to cook delicious food, I need to taste my food.  Although I have most of my dad’s genes, I don’t want to deprive my taste buds – I’ll just work out more and try to eat in moderation.  I take my dishes home and split the portions with my honey or with my sister and her kids.  For me, I mostly taste the food, not indulge in a full plate of it.  Well, except last Friday night, when Peyman and I split 3 – 1 serving dishes (very small servings) – a filet mignon, a flank steak, and duck.  Peyman grew up with a pet duck, that he named Duckie.  Friday was his very first time to try duck, and it was my first time in 15+ years that I had it too.  We each had about 3 pieces.  The richness of the dish left us both wanting more… it was so good!

I told my mom about it and she wants me to cook it for her too.  She’s sees it as a delicacy.  I’ll just have to be on a look out for duck meat at markets like Whole Foods or Bristol Farms.  Duck meat, unlike chicken, is cooked medium to medium rare.  If you’ve never tried it, I recommend it.  I can’t wait to make it again.  

Here’s the recipe.  I know you’ll enjoy it!

Duck Breast with Dried Cherry Pan Sauce

Serving size : 1


1 Duck breast, skin on

1 Shallot, diced

1/4 cup Dried cherries

1/4 cup Red wine

1 cup of Veal stock

1 tablespoon butter, cut into squares – very cold

Salt and Pepper, to taste


Dried Cherry Pan Sauce

1) In a small saucepot, take a small piece of meat and fat from the duck (about 1 tbsp that you can get from cleaning/cutting off the duck breast). Create suc (browned bits of flavor at the bottom of the pan) by adding little oil and duck pieces to the pan. Saute’ over medium heat until browned.

2) if excessively fatty, defat pan.  Use about 1 tbsp of fat to sweat shallots.

3) Add shallots and little salt until the shallots have a little color on them.

4) Stir in dried cherries.

5) Off heat, add red wine. Then let it reduce on low heat until it is almost evaporated.

6) Add about veal stock.  Reduce slowly on low heat until you get a sauce consistency (coats back of a spoon).  Set aside until ready to serve.

7) Don’t strain sauce until ready to strain.  Want the flavors in the sauce to meld in with one another.

9) Once ready to serve, strain through a chinois or sieve into another small saucepot.

10) Over heat, add salt and pepper.  Adjust consistency, if too thick.  If too thick, add more stock.  If too loose, adjust by reduction (heat).

11) Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

12) When consistency coats the back of a spoon, add butter off heat.

Sauteed Duck Breast

1) Clean/cut off veins on duck breast

2) Scour the breast, fat side up, lightly at an angle, creating 3 small x’s.

3) Season both sides with salt and pepper

4) In a saute’ pan, add 3-4 tablespoons of cold water.  Skin side down, add the duck breast and place on range top on low to medium heat, slowly raising the temperature. The skin should be a bit crisp and browned.  Cook the breast 75% of the way through. Remove excess fat.  Flip breast and take off heat.  Set aside.  Rest the breast in the pan for 5-7 minutes, then rest on a rack for 20 minutes.  The breast will be ready to serve in 20 minutes.  Do not cut the breast until it has rested for 20 minutes, or the juices will leave the meat and it won’t be as nice and tender as it should.  When ready to serve, quickly place in the oven to warm. 350 degrees for about a minute.  Remove immediately from the oven.

With a sharp knife (I use a Chef’s knife), cut the duck breast on a bias and serve the duck and the sauce with Herb Roasted Potatoes, recipe found in my site.

I hope you enjoy this as much as Peyman and I have!  Bon Appetite!

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