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How to sear duck breast

November 20, 2010

pan seared duck breast with Roman artichokes

I love duck. This recipe is for duck that can be found in certain specialty grocers and butchers. Cooking wild duck is more touchy because the meat is often tougher and has more potential for bacteria than farm raised. For instructions on wild game the Joy of Cooking has a decent amount of information.

The best way to serve a fresh piece of duck breast is medium rare with a simple pan sear. To make a perfect Medium rare piece of duck, it never even needs to go in the oven. On the flesh side, there’s a small piece of meat that should be removed for more even cooking (see image below). Score the skin in a fine cross hatch. Try not to cut past the skin into the flesh. Set a pan on at about medium heat and season both sides of the duck with salt. you can also finely dust a bit of cinnamon or other spice on the flesh side, but it’s important not to add too many flavors to a good piece of duck, let the meat speak for itself. When the pan is warm set the meat in skin side down and reduce the heat. The pan should be hot when you put the duck in to prevent sticking, but needs to be set fairly low in order to render out the fat from the skin. By cooking the skin side of the meat on a low heat the fat has a chance to render out and crisp up, plus it gives the duck time to get warm all the way through which helps with a perfectly cooked piece of meat. Once a decent amount of the fat has rendered out you can pour it through a cheese cloth or a paper towel and keep it for things like roasting potatoes. It should take about 10-15 minutes for the fat to fully render out and the skin to turn a deep golden brown.

Once the skin is deep golden and crispy turn the duck over and continue to cook on low heat for another 2 or 3 minutes until the flesh side has browned and the duck feels about medium rare. Once it feels right, set it aside on a plate in a warm place and let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Use the resting time to finish up anything else you are serving with the duck. If you want duck fat fried potatoes steam or boil potatoes before you cook the duck, then fry them up in the duck pan while the duck rests. Serve the duck sliced thin. If there is any left over duck it is delicious sliced cold with toast for breakfast or on a salad or sandwich for lunch.

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