2 Duck Breasts, skin on (about 1/2 Lb. each)
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, room temperature
Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Lb. Fresh or frozen cherries, pitted (about 1 cup)
1/2 Tbsp. Canola oil
2 Tbsp. Onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Celery, finely chopped
1/2 Tbsp. Sherry Vinegar
1/2 Tsp. Fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 Tbsp. Honey
1/8 Tsp. Sea salt
1-2 Cups Cooked Wild Rice and Brown Rice medley to serve
2) If using fresh cherries, using a cherry pitter, pit them. If using frozen, they should already be pitted. You will need about 1/4 cup of the cherries, cut in half, to add to the sauce at the end. Cut those now and put to the side.
3) Make the sauce. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the onion and celery and cook for about three minutes. Cook until the vegetables are translucent. Add all but that 1/4 cup of the cherries, vinegar and ginger. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 4-5 minutes. During that time, press down on the fruit with a spatula or spoon so they release their juices. The fruit will start to break down and the mixture will start to get thicker.
4) Add the honey and salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the fruit and vegetables are soft and the mixture is even thicker. About 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning.
5) Cook the duck. Preheat the oven to 400 degree F.
6) Smear the butter on the bottom of a cold, non-stick frying pan. Add the duck, skin side down and place over medium heat. Cook until the skin is crisp and golden and most of the fat has been rendered (about 8 minutes). Flip the breasts over and cook until the underside is seared. About 2 minutes. Flip the duck breasts over so they are skin side down and put in the oven for 6 minus. Flip the duck and using a pastry brush, brush the crispy skin with the honey. Let cook 2 more minutes. Use a thermometer to test the temperature of the duck to get the doneness you prefer. For rare to medium, you want the meat 130 – 135 degrees F. For medium, let it go to 135 – 140 degrees F.
7) Move breasts to a cutting board (skin side up). Let rest for 5 minutes.
9) Cut the duck breasts into 1/2 inch slices. Plate the wild and brown rice on a platter and arrange the sliced duck on top. Drizzle any accumulated juices from the board on top. Serve the cherry sauce on the side. Enjoy.
NOTES: My duck with cherry sauce is going to be a dish you make over and over again. I’ve heard people say, duck is “fatty and greasy”. If you prepare it and cook it correctly, your duck will have the most amazing, crispy skin and have a moist and delectable meat. You’ll want to save any of that rendered duck fat for amazing roast potatoes. More on that later. My duck breasts get the royal treatment in this recipe with a side of cherry sauce.
If you are a duck lover(and who doesn’t?), this dish is for you. I’ve made it super simple to make if you follow the cooking instructions step by step.
While I love fresh cherries in this dish, if they aren’t in season, feel free to use frozen cherries. I find they work just as well. I’m preparing this at the height of cherry season so I’m using fresh.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT COOKING DUCK BREAST
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about cooking duck breasts. These FAQs will provide you with everything you need to know about making this dish perfectly everytime.
Start by scoring the skin in a crisscross pattern and season with salt and pepper Let the duck come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Always start duck in a cold, dry pan (or just a smear of butter like I did in this recipe). Place the duck breast skin-side down over a medium heat. The key is low and slow. Cook until the skin is crispy and most of the fat has been rendered. Then flip and cook to your desired level of doneness on the stove top or in the oven. Let them rest before slicing.
Duck breasts are safe to eat at 135 degrees F. for medium-rare, 145 degrees F. for medium, and up to 160 degrees F. for well-done. Most chefs would agree that duck is best between medium-rare to medium.
While cooking scored duck breasts the way I describe above, the fat will naturally render from the skin. Save that excess fat by pouring it into a container. It is liquid gold and has the most amazing flavor. Use it to cook other dishes and/or for roasting vegetables.
Marinating is not necessary, and I don’t recommend it but I’m sure any basic marinade would be fine. I prefer keep the preparation of the duck simple and putting a flavorful sauce on the side.
Scoring the skin helps render the fat and create crispiness. Cooking skin-side down in a hot skillet without moving the meat too much also helps achieve crispy skin. Remember, you want to cook low and slow.
Yes, you can. Sear the duck breasts in a skillet first, then transfer them to a preheated oven at around 375 – 400 degrees F. until they reach your desired level of doneness – just like I did in this recipe.
Let the cooked duck breasts rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute and ensures more tender meat. Treat them just like you would a steak.
The simple answer is no. The skin will hold in all the moisture in the lean duck meat. It will also flavor the meat as it cooks…kind of like self-basting. If you absolutely have to get rid of the skin, take it off after the meat has rested. Make sure you give it to the guy next to you. Most people would kill for some extra crispy duck skin.
Slice the duck breasts diagonally and serve them on a plate alongside your chosen sides. Drizzle any pan juices or sauces over the meat. If serving a sauce, always serve it on the side or under the duck breast. You want to keep that skin crispy. Putting sauce on top will make it soffy and undue all your hard work.
You now know everything you need to know about cooking these duck breasts. Let’s get started on the duck breasts with cherry sauce recipe.
I like to make the sauce ahead and then just gently reheat it before serving. That makes pulling this dish together for family or friends very easy. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. You’ll be finishing the duck in the oven.
Take your duck breast and using a sharp paring knife, cut slits through the skin and fat (don’t cut into the meat) diagnally every 1/2 inch. Then, cut slits going the opposit way creating a diamond pattern in the skin/fat. Dry the duck with paper towels. This will help the duck crisp up. Salt and pepper the breasts on both sides and put to the side for about 30 minutes until they come to room temperature. This will help them cook evenly.
Making cherry sauce for duck is pretty easy. Either thaw your frozen cherries or pit your fresh cherries. I invested a whole $10 years ago and purchased a cherry pitter. I only use it during cherry season but it was the best $10 I ever spent. Pitting cherries is the pits (yes, pun intended!!!). You can try cutting around the pits, but really, just get the cherry pitter or if you are using frozen, they will come pitted. Put about 1/4 cup of the cherries to the side. (Cut them in half.) You’ll be adding these to the sauce at the end.
In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the finely chopped onion and celery. Cut them very small since they are part of a sauce. Cook them down for about three minutes until soft and translucent. Add all but that 1/4 cup of cherries, the vinegar and ginger. Continue cooking for about 4-5 minutes. Press down on the fruit to release those juices and to break down the fruit.
Add the honey and salt and keep cooking and stirring for another 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly until ready to finish the sauce.
Now, you are ready to cook the duck breasts. Always start your duck in a cold pan. I’m rubbing butter on the bottom of a non-stick skillet simply for extra flavor. You may omit it if you like.
Add the prepped duck breasts, skin side down in the cold skillet and place over medium heat on the stove. Let the pan heat up and start cooking the duck. You want to cook until most of the fat has been rendered and that skin is super crispy and brown. About 8 minutes. If it takes longer to get really brown and crispy, let it go another minute or two.
Flip the duck over and let sear about two minutes. Flip back over (skin side down) and put the skillet in the pre-heated oven and roast for about 6 minutes. Test the meat for doneness. Use a thermometer to test the temperature of the duck to get the doneness you prefer. For rare to medium, you want the meat 130 – 135 degrees F. For medium, let it go to 135 – 140 degrees F.
At around 6 minutes, flip the breasts over and brush the skin side with the honey. Continue to roast for about 2 more minutes (testing for you preferred doneness).
Once done, remove to a cutting board and let them rest at least 5-10 minutes to let the juices redistribute into the meat.
At this point, reheat your sauce and add the reserved cherries and cook until completely heated through.
Put your cooked rice (I love a good wild rice and brown rice combination) on a platter. Slice the duck breasts in thick 3/4 inch slices and place on top. Pour on any accumulated juices from the cutting board. Serve the sauce on the side. Don’t pour the sauce on top of the duck, it will make the skin soggy. Let your guests do that right before eating.
And there you have it, duck with cherry sauce!
If you like duck, be sure to try Duck A L’Orange-My Way for an easier preparation. Did you like this dish? Try some of my other favorite poulty dishes.