Foodie Friday: Duck Breast with Blueberry, Orange and Rosemary Sauce
One of the easiest yet most gourmet things you can cook is duck breast with a berry sauce. The key to perfect duck breast? PATIENCE.
Why patience? Because you need to get that duck fat to render out, slowly but surely crisping it up, which requires you put the breast, fat side down, in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven on low to medium heat and just let it sit. And sit. And sit. If you do this, you’ll have delicious duck. If you lack patience and keep flipping it? Not good.
Here’s how you make this dish …
- Duck breast. Generally what you’ll see in the store is around 1 lb. per breast. This is perfect, half a pound of duck breast will feed one adult. For a party of four I may buy three duck breasts just to be sure there’s enough to go around.
- 1 c. frozen blueberries (note that if you don’t have blueberries, you can use almost any berry and have great success – I’ve done this same sauce with dried cherries, with raspberries, with blackberries, and all were great. Dried cherries are particularly tasty!)
- Zest from one orange
- About 3 tbs. rosemary, roughly chopped
- Salt & pepper
- ¼ c. white wine
- Meat thermometer
- Slit the fat on the duck breast as in the photo above, making sure not to penetrate meat below
- Lightly salt and pepper the duck breast on both sides
- Put the duck breast, fat side down, in a cast iron skillet or heavy Dutch oven on low to medium even heat and cook until the duck fat has the golden color as in the photo above. This can take 20 minutes. You can lift the edge of a breast to make sure its getting golden with no burning.
- While the duck is cooking, make your sauce. Put blueberries, wine, zest and rosemary into a saucepan and heat, stirring until thickened. Take of heat.
- Once your duck fat is golden brown and there’s a good amount of fat in the pan, pour off all but about two tablespoons of fat. I like to pour this through a sieve and save it. Duck fat refrigerates beautifully, and you can use it in place of butter for cooking and seasoning (it is SO GOOD, especially if you use it to fry steamed potatoes with some fresh herbs – ridiculously amazing).
- Once you have poured off the excess fat, flip your breasts. This is the time to keep a close eye on doneness. Like most meat, it cooks slowly then extremely fast once over about 120 degrees, so keep an eye on it! I like to use a meat thermometer to periodically check temperature.
- I like to take the duck breasts off when they’re about 125-127 degrees in the thickest portion. I then let them rest for 10 minutes or so while I plate and deal with everything else, which brings them up to about 130-135 degrees, which is medium rare. Note that the USDA says to cook all poultry to 165 degrees for safety purposes, so I be warned. Of course, you’ll never find a restaurant that does that. Duck breast is not like chicken – it’s best tasting on the rare side. Here’s a photo to give you an idea of what the breast looks like around 135 degrees:
- Now add about a tablespoon of water into the sauce, and pour the whole thing into the pan you cooked the duck breasts in, using a spatula to deglaze the pan with the sauce, then pour out the sauce. You have to act quickly here, because the sweet blueberries will stick to the hot pan otherwise.
- Slice duck breast into medallions, plate and pour sauce over them!
Any ways you like to cook duck?