Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Cassis Compote

Total Time:
30 min
10 min
20 min

4 servings

  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless duck breasts (They may come as 1 butterflied breast. If so, slice down the middle to separate them.) The best ducks are Moscovy ducks, available from specialty butchers, but any duck will work.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup creme de Cassis
  • 1/2 cup black currant jam (unsweetened if possible), or black cherry, boysenberry, or similar preserve
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Place the duck skin side up. Using a sharp knife, score 4 (1/4-inch-deep) cuts across the skin at a 45 degree angle. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over the meat side of each duck breast.

  • Heat a well-seasoned skillet or nonstick pan over high heat. When pan is hot, add duck breasts, skin side down, and cook for 5 minutes, or until skin is brown and crispy. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. If you are unfamiliar with duck breasts, don't be put off by their unusual look. The fat-to-meat proportions reverse themselves when cooked, as much of the fat is rendered and the meat expands.

  • Remove pan from heat (save the drippings) and transfer duck breasts, skin side up, to a cooking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 6 minutes.

  • Carefully discard all but 2 tablespoons of duck drippings from the pan. Return pan to medium heat and add shallot. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes, or until shallot begins to turn golden. Add Cassis to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen up the browned bits left by the duck. Add jam, vinegar, and remaining teaspoon of black pepper, and stir occasionally for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Remove duck from the oven and slice each breast at a 45 degree angle into 1/4-inch-thick strips (properly cooked duck should resemble medium-rare steak). Arrange in a fanlike pattern on a warmed plates and spoon Cassis compote overtop. Serve immediately.

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