Seared Duck Breasts with Weeknight Cherry Gastrique

Seared Duck Breast with Weeknight Cherry Gastrique
Serves 4
  1. 1 T. Olive oil
  2. 2 T. Minced shallot
  3. ½ C. Best quality cherry jam (I like Bonne Maman)
  4. 1 - 2 T. Aged Balsamic vinegar
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  6. Four 8 oz. Skin on duck breast halves
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the gastrique: Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the shallot and sauté briefly until translucent. Add the jam and vinegar and cook, stirring, until the jam has melted and is quite liquid. Add more vinegar if needed to balance the sweetness. Season generously with salt and pepper. (It should not be sweet, it should be tart and fruity.) This can be made early in the day, refrigerated and reheated, or made at the same time as the duck.
  2. Prep and Sear the duck: Using a small, sharp knife, make very shallow slices into the duck skin and fat, creating a diamond pattern. Do not cut into the meat, only the skin and fat. This will help the fat to render and the skin to crisp. Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat two large stainless steel skillets over medium high heat for 2 minutes, until hot. (Preheat the pans dry—the duck has plenty of fat already!) Add the duck breasts, skin side down. Turn the heat down to moderate-low and sear the duck breasts, without disturbing them, for 4-7 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts. (The smaller fillets will take 4 minutes, full breast halves will take 7.) Turn the duck breasts over and sear an additional 2-5 minutes (again, depending on size.) The duck breasts will be medium rare when you remove them from the heat.
  4. Remove the breasts to a plate and tent with foil or drape a kitchen towel over them and let them rest for 3 minutes. As they rest, the breasts will come up to medium doneness. (You should not cook them well done.) If you made the gastrique in advance, warm it up.
  5. Slice the duck breasts into thin slices (I like to cut them on a horizontal diagonal). Spoon some of the gastrique onto the bottom of the plate and arrange the slices over.
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