Duck breast is one of my favorite cuts of meat, but it’s a challenge to cook right. You need to sear it so that the skin gets crispy at an even rate. Otherwise, the skin is prone to burn too quickly, leaving too much fat underneath. I’ve found that a lower temperature pan is key.
How to Cook Duck Breast
Start by scoring the thick skin with a sharp knife. See how the cross hatch pattern is a tight grid pattern? That’s what you are going for. Summer rosemary is very fragrant and will stand up against the richness of duck meat, so use at least 1 sprig of leaves as a marinade.
Duck meat is poultry, but does not carry the risk of salmonella like chicken so it’s often cooked to medium rare. That said, I prefer to cook the breast to medium because the texture is a bit less chewy. Either way, you must allow the duck to rest for several minutes before slicing.
Flavor Tip: Duck is quite substantial and can use a generous amount of salt and pepper before it tastes over salted. When seasoning the duck breast, apply evenly and right before cooking to build the deepest flavors.
In terms of flavor profile, I call this a French American preparation because of the use of fresh herbs and clean flavors. Thyme leaves get sprinkled on at the last moment, and all the summer vegetables sit inside of a green broth that’s salty and aromatic.
Easy Aromatic Green Sauce
To make the green broth, you simply blend water with green onion and garlic in a high speed blender. Then warm the sauce and stir in duck fat, known as lardo. Presto, an instant aromatic green pan sauce.
Where to Get the Lardo (Duck Fat)
In case you don’t have lardo from making duck confit, you can just skim off the pan drippings from this duck breast and reserve 1 tablespoon for the green sauce. Just like that, you have a delicious seasoning fat for your green broth.
Best Summer Vegetables with Duck Breast
You can include virtually any seasonal vegetable. I prefer some crunchy textures and the spicy bite of radishes (with green tops intact). Be sure to cut the potatoes very small so they cook evenly with the rest of the vegetables. I chose purple for contrast more than flavor.
Wherever you are, and whatever time of year, you can adapt this dish easily.
Star Ingredient: duck
Flavor Affinities: DUCK + SCALLIONS + ROSEMARY + THYME
Tastes: aromatic, sweet, savory
Textures: crispy, chewy, crunchy, brothy
Ease: moderate – difficult
Method: pan fry
Wisdom: Duck is a rich, high fat protein so it’s nice to pair it with fresh herbs and an aromatic green broth. Summer vegetables lighten the dish and add a bit of crunch.
Duck breast is available individually, but you will save money buying a whole duck and disjointing it yourself. See how to break down a whole duck and how to make confit here.
Crispy Duck Breast with Green Onion Pan Sauce
- 2 duck breasts, skin scored in a cross hatch pattern
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves, minced
- kosher salt
- black pepper
Green Onion Garlic Sauce
- 1 bunch scallions (green onions), white parts removed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups water
- 3 oz green beans, (1 handful), cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 small purple potatoes, diced small
- 3 radishes, sliced in half with greens on (rinse to remove dirt)
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves
Sear the Duck Breast
- Score the fat layer in a cross hatch pattern, cutting down just to the meat (not through the meat). Rub both sides with rosemary. Season generously front to back with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Warm a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the duck breast, skin-side down. Sear slowly (pour excess fat into a bowl to use for the pan sauce). Cook for several minutes until the skin is very golden and crispy. Turn over and continue to cook for 3 minutes for medium rare or longer for well done.
- Rest the duck breast for several minutes before slicing.
Blend the Green Onion Garlic Sauce
- Add scallions (green part only), garlic cloves, salt, and water. Blend until very smooth.
Pan Sauce with Summer Vegetables
- In a medium pan, add half the green onion garlic sauce with the cut summer vegetables. Simmer over medium heat until just cooked. Transfer cooked vegetables to 2 bowls. Pour the remaining green sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in lardo (duck fat) that you reserved from cooking the breast. Pour this sauce over the vegetables.
- Sprinkle thyme leaves over the vegetables and top with crispy seared duck breast.
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