Duck is arguably my favorite protein and something I cook at least twice a week. This duck breast in px sauce is a recipe I love to give friends since it is wildly impressive, but surprisingly easy. If you have been wary of cooking duck, then this duck breast recipe is perfect for you!
Cooking a duck breast is not difficult, and in fact only requires a few simple rules (see my How To Cook Duck Breast guide for the generalization). The most difficult thing for me is actually figuring out what sauce and side to pair with this rich and delicious cut of poultry.
While I already have a great collection of duck breast recipes on this site, I definitely think that this duck breast in PX sauce is one of the best ones. The fatty richness of the meat, the perfectly crispy skin rendered of fat, all with an umami packed sherry sauce that uses mounted butter for that glorious shine. And as you might see from the photo above, some smoked Maldon flakes on top.
While this is an easy duck breast recipe, the sauce might prove difficult as it uses a culinary technique one may not be accustomed to. Nevertheless, there are only 6 ingredients so I hope my walkthrough will suffice.
What Is Pedro Ximenez?
Pedro Ximenez is a sherry wine and the base of this duck breast recipes sauce. It is extremely sweet, so while people do drink it straight, many prefer it for cooking. It is similar to sweet marsala or sweet madeira, except while those each have dry varieties, Pedro Ximenez is always sweet. The actual Pedro Ximenez grape is highly desirable and often used in the making of Spanish vermut (which makes a great simple cocktail by the way).
I actually learned quite about about this style of fortified wine when doing a bodega tour in Jerez de la Frontera with my wife last year. If you are ever in Spain’s south-west I highly recommend visiting the sherry triangle and doing some tours.
What Is PX Sauce?
Well, PX is just an initialism of Pedro Ximenez, so PX sauce is a sauce made with Pedro Ximenez sherry and a few other ingredients. It is extremely delicious if you are a fan of rich, unctuous pan sauces, and to be honest not at all that difficult to make. This PX sauce recipe uses the ‘mounted butter method’ but you could change it up and use a slurry, heavy cream, or just leave out the fat entirely.
How To Make A Duck Breast In PX Sauce
This recipe makes four duck breasts, but you can easily upscale it if you need. The Pedro Ximenex sauce portion of this recipe makes more than enough so you have at least enough for 8 breasts, however if you are making a side like mashed or whipped potatoes you might want to make more.
- 4 Skin On, Grade A Duck Breasts – You can often find these in the frozen section of a good grocery, or at your local butcher. You definitely want to get some good quality duck breasts with lots of fat under the skin as that is a key part of the sauce. Note: if you happen to find a great deal on duck breasts at the store pick up as many as you can and make some duck prosciutto. It is an amazing snack that goes great on charcuterie boards or while hiking.
- 500 ml Chicken Stock – About 2 cups. You can use store-bought if you must, but I love making and using homemade chicken stock whenever I can. I love this recipe from Marion’s Kitchen since it’s so easy (and the ginger is an especially nice flavor I don’t find in many chicken stocks).
- 250 ml Pedro Ximenez Sherry – About 1 cup.
- 3 Shallots – Finely Diced
- 4 cloves Garlic – Finely minced
- 200 grams Butter – Frozen and cubed
- Salt – As needed
- Black Pepper – To taste.
- Smoked Salt – Optional, to taste.
The first step, as with all of my duck breast recipes, is to score the skin. This is optional, but it helps the fat render out evenly and will ultimately give you a very crispy skin. Simply use a very sharp knife and cut a cross-hatch patten into the skin right to the fat. Do not cut into the actual meat as that can cause uneven cooking. Rub a bit of salt on the skin side of the breasts.
Also, sometimes the duck breasts come with the tender attached. I remove it when making a duck recipe that showcases the breast, but I always save them for duck tenders with some dipping sauce as a snack in for the future. They’re basically like chicken tenders, but even more delicious.
To cook a perfect duck breast you just have to follow a couple simple steps. First, preheat your oven to 175C or 350F. Second, lay the scored breasts skin side down in a cold pan. Place the pan on the heat/fire on the lowest setting. Over the next 6-9 minutes gently raise the fire/heat as you notice more and more fat rendering out from the skin.
Use some kitchen tongs to lift the duck after a lot of fat has rendered out. If it looks like the photo above flip the breast so it is skin side up and pop the pan in the oven for 6 minutes. You must use an oven safe pan in this recipe, or you will have to move the breasts to a hot baking dish in between. After 6 minutes in the oven remove the duck breasts from the pan and set them on a plate under some foil to rest while you make the sauce.
Right into the hot pan with the duck fat pour in the sherry and shallots. Let it come to a simmer and reduce about 50%, then add the chicken stock and minced garlic. Let the sauce boil or simmer until it has reduced by about 75%. Yes, this is a lot of reducing, but it is key to making a perfect px sauce to pair with the duck breast.
Once you have reached the desired reduction, strain the sauce of the shallot and garlic pieces (and from your chicken stock as well if there is leftover particulate).
Place the strained and reduced px sauce back in the pan on low heat. Slowly add cubes of melted butter one at a time while constantly stirring. If you do not stir while adding the butter, or if the butter is not cold enough, you will break the emulsion and ruin the sauce. So this is really the only somewhat difficult part of this recipe. Once one butter cube has been incorporated add another and continue until all the butter has been used.
The final sauce should be a thick and glossy liquid that is easily pourable. Taste this sauce and see if it needs any adjustments. By reducing so much chicken stock I didn’t feel the need to add any salt, since the duck was cooked with some salt and I will be using finishing salt later. But it is entirely up to you.
Plating style is entirely subjective but I simply laid down a bed of my French whipped potatoes and sliced the duck breast on the bias (diagonally) to be placed on top. You could also slice the breast thinly like I show in my Miso Glazed Duck Breast recipe, or cut into four large pieces like in my very tasty Hot Honey Duck Breast. If you are a fan of duck breast recipes then both of those choices are also reader favorites.
Finally I spoon over a bit of the homemade PX sauce, sprinkle over some of my smoked finishing salt, and garnish with a few edible flowers. You don’t have to use flowers, and it is honestly a bit r/IAmVeryCulinary but I had some leftover from another recipe so decided to throw them on here.
What Sides To Serve With Duck Breast In PX Sauce
While I opted simply for some French whipped potatoes, there are so many sides that go with this duck in PX sauce you can change it up to suit your preferences. Here are a few options you might enjoy:
- Daikon Fries – Similar to how beef will be used in steak frites, you can do duck and daikon for a more casual bistro style meal.
- Fried Eggplant With Honey – If this sounds unusual, it is actually a very popular Spanish tapa. And some fried eggplant rounds with a bit of honey would pair very nicely with this rich and savory duck breast.
- Pisto – This is another Spanish recipe which is basically a vegetable stew. It is analogous to the French ratatouille, which definitely pairs well with fatty meats.
- Sweet Potato Mash – If you don’t feel like making regular mashed potatoes, maybe the sweet variety will suit you better!
- Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Bacon And Shallot – A quite rich side dish so the overall meal will be very heavy, but if that’s what you are looking for then this option works well.
- Polenta – I actually love polenta with duck and this recipe is super easy and very straightforward.
More Duck Breast Recipes You’ll Love
- Passionfruit Glazed Duck Breast
- Duck With Leeks
- Duck With Blackcurrants
- Duck Breast With Haskap Gastrique
- Duck Breast With Plum Sauce
- Duck Ravioli In Beetroot Cream Sauce
Duck Breast With PX Sauce
- 4 Skin On Grade A Duck Breasts You can often find these in the frozen section of a good grocery, or at your local butcher. You definitely want to get some good quality duck breasts with lots of fat under the skin as that is a key part of the sauce. Note: if you happen to find a great deal on duck breasts at the store pick up as many as you can and make some duck prosciutto. It is an amazing snack that goes great on charcuterie boards or while hiking.
- 500 ml Chicken Stock About 2 cups. You can use store-bought if you must but I love making and using homemade chicken stock whenever I can. I love this recipe from Marion's Kitchen since it's so easy (and the ginger is an especially nice flavor I don't find in many chicken stocks).
- 250 ml Pedro Ximenez Sherry About 1 cup
- 3 Shallots Finely Diced
- 4 cloves Garlic Finely minced
- 200 grams Butter Frozen and cubed
- Salt As needed
- Black Pepper To taste.
- Smoked Salt Optional, to taste.
- Preheat your oven to 175C or 350F
- Use a sharp knife and score the skin of the duck breast in a cross hatch pattern. Rub the skin with salt and place the breasts skin side down in a cold pan.
- Place the pan on the lowest heat setting on your stove. As you notice the fat begin to render out, gradually raise the heat until it is on the highest and the skin is crispy. This step takes around 6-9 minutes, and the inside will still be quite raw.
- Flip the duck to skin side up and immediately place the pan into the oven for 6 minutes. When done remove the breasts (leave the fat in the pan) and tent them with foil to rest.
- Add the sherry and shallots to the pan on high heat and let it reduce about 50%. Then add the chicken stock and garlic and let everything reduce another 75% or so. Strain the sauce so you are only left with the reduced liquid (you can discard the shallot and garlic pieces). Place the liquid back in the pan.
- Turn the heat to the lowest and add the butter cubes one at a time while stirring. Only add a cube when the previous has been fully melted and incorporated.
- Plate the duck breast on some mashed potatoes or a side of your choice, then spoon over the PX sauce. Sprinkle over some finishing salt and/or freshly cracked black pepper and enjoy!