Gourmet Greatrix

Sauteed Duck Breast

Duck Breast Many people are put off from eating duck breast because so often it is served with a thick layer of tough fat crowning each slice. However it is possible to cook duck breasts so that the meat remains medium rare to medium while still developing a non-fatty, beautifully crispy, and non-chewy skin. The secret is to score the skin and cook the breast slowly on its skin so that the fat has a chance to render, or melt out of the skin. Once the skin has lost much of its fat, it will not only shrink in size, but will then become crispy. Patience is indeed a virtue.
Preparation
Trim First trim off any excess fat and skin around the breast. There should be just enough skin to cover the breast. Trim off any sliver skin or sinew on the surface of the meat.
Trim Lay the breast, skin side up, on the counter.
Score Using a very sharp paring or boning knife score through the skin and into the fat (but not into the meat. The cuts should be about 1/4 inch apart. Then turn the breast 90° and continue making cuts forming a cross-hatch pattern in the skin.

Cooking
  1. Heat the oven to 400°
  2. Season the duck with salt and pepper.
  3. Warm a heavy bottomed oven proof skillet over medium-low heat.
  4. Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in the skillet to render off the fat (about 6 minutes). Keep the heat low-medium, the object here is to not cook the meat at all but to just give enough heat and time for the fat to melt away.
  5. Periodically drain off and reserve the rendered duck fat.
  6. Once all the fat has rendered, increase the heat to medium-high. Turn the duck breasts over and sear for 1 minute, to get some nice colour.
  7. Turn the fat side down again and place the skillet into the oven to roast for 7 to 9 minutes, until breasts are medium rare.
  8. Let the duck breasts rest for 5 minutes, this will allow the juices to settle.
  9. The duck breast can be served whole or sliced 3-4 times width ways.
Tips for success
  • Don't rush it - be patient! If you get impatient and crank up the heat too soon, the breast meat will start to cook before the fat has rendered and become overcooked and dry.
  • Strain the rendered duck fat thoroughly and store in the fridge or freezer. It makes a wonderfully tasty fat for cooking with. Save it for special occasions though as it's not good for the heart! Try tossing par-boiled potatoes in a little hot duck fat and then roasting... YUM!
  • When cooking for a dinner party, I tend to render the fat ahead of time (steps 1-6) and then set the breasts aside until the guests arrive when I finish them in the oven (step 7-9). Refrigerate the rendered breasts until needed, but remove from the fridge 20-30 minutes before cooking to allow them to come up to room temperature.
  • Fruit sauces and duck are marriages made in heaven.
  • Try serving the breasts with onion marmalade

Posted by Victoria on January 27, 2006 05:31 PM to Gourmet Greatrix