Ok, I’m assuming you’ve never heard of Haskap before, or you’ve just discovered it and you found this article when researching “What Can I Make With Haskap Berries?“, right? To be honest, I didn’t even know these were a strange fruit as I’ve been eating them for years and just thought they were a strange breed of blueberry. Well, it turns out that they’re really only popular in Japan, russia, and Ukraine (where I live) so you might have a bit of a hard time finding them. Nonetheless if you do get your hands on some, I suggest you make this duck breast with haskap gastrique because quite frankly it’s delicious.
I do quite a lot of duck recipes as it’s my favorite poultry and whether you want to do something traditional like a duck breast with plum sauce, or go a little bit more creative like my duck ravioli in beetroot cream sauce, they all start the same way. I pan sear the duck in the traditional French method to make crispy skin and a perfect medium rare center. Yes, duck can and should be eaten medium rare…it is not like chicken.
What Are Haskap Berries?
The main ingredient to this recipe isn’t the duck, but the berries that make up the haskap gastrique. Haskap is actually the Ainu Japanese name for these berries, whereas in Ukraine they are known as zhymolost‘, which simply means honeysuckle. They look like a lumpy elongated blueberry. The skin is very thin and soft and the insides are extremely liquid. Popping one in your mouth almost feels like fruit caviar as these berries are not ‘meaty’ at all. As for the taste, haskap berries are both sweet and tart, and they quite remind me of wine grapes.
How To Properly Cook Duck Breast
All my duck breast recipes start the same way. A cold pan. I know this goes against most meat cooking techniques, but it’s necessary for duck due to the thick fat layer under the skin. Salt both sides of the breasts and then place them skin side down in a cold pan. Put the flame on the lowest setting and slowly (SLOWLY) increase the flame as the fat renders out. I know this sounds tricky, but once you learn how to cook a duck breast you will be making them over and over again.
You’ll begin to notice that the liquid in the pan increases while the duck isn’t getting completely cooked through. This is good. You want to render the fat and create a crispy skin layer. Once you have the flame on the highest setting, lift the breast and check the skin. If it is evenly golden brown, good job. Flip the duck and place the whole pan in an oven preheated to 200C for 4 minutes. When the 4 minutes are up, remove the pan from the oven and place the duck breasts on a board to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
How To Make Haskap Gastrique
In a pan add a half cup of sugar and a half cup of water. Cook on medium heat until you get a nice caramel color. Then add a half cup of red wine vinegar and stir well.
Once you incorporate the vinegar, add in a quarter up of red wine (I used merlot) along with a few sprigs of thyme. Give the pan a few swirls to mix everything and to allow the thyme to release its oils into the gastrique.
Pour in a cup of your haskap (blue honeysuckle) berries and stir the pan around. You want the berries to evenly break down into the gastrique and create a rich, flavorful sauce. This will take just a few minutes. Taste your gastrique and if you feel it is a bit too sweet add a pinch or two of salt. Once the berries are broken down in the sauce remove the thyme and turn off the heat. Voila, your haskap gastrique is ready to go on your seared duck breast!
Plating Your Duck Breast With Haskap Gastrique
After your duck breast has rested for 5 minutes you can slice into it. The best way is to do it skin side down and use a very sharp knife. Try to aim for one fluid motion, almost as if you are slicing fish for sashimi.
Fan out your duck breast on a plate skin side up and spoon over the haskap gastrique. Remember, a little goes a long way so if you find it to be too strong, just don’t add so much. I personally think it’s the best gastrique I’ve ever made, but I’m not one to toot my own horn. Enjoy!
Duck Breast With Haskap Gastrique
- Another Pan
- 2 Duck Breasts Grade A Skin On
- 4 pinches Salt a pinch for each side of each duck breast
- 1 cup Haskap Berries aka honeysuckle, blue honeysuckle, or honeyberry
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Red Wine I used Merlot
- 3 sprigs Thyme
- Salt to taste
- Black Pepper freshly cracked, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 200C
- Sprinkle salt on both sides of your duck breasts then place them skin side down in a cold pan. Turn the heat on the lowest setting and allow the fat layer beneath the skin to slowly render out. As the fat renders out slowly increase the heat. After about 8-10 minutes you should have rendered out most of the fat and be at the highest heat level. Check if the skin has crisped up to a nice golden brown.
- Flip the duck to be skin side up and place in the oven for 4 minutes. Now you can get started on the gastrique. After 4 minutes in the oven, pull the duck out and move to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.
- In another pan add the sugar and water and put on medium-high heat. Once most of the water begins to evaporate and the color becomes very light gold pour in the red wine vinegar. Simmer for about 2 minutes then add the red wine and thyme. Simmer for another 2 minutes and pour in the cup of haskap berries. Stir the pan around so the berries are coated in the gastrique and begin to break down. Once the berries are broken down turn off the heat completely.
- Slice your duck skin side down. Flip to skin side up and move to a plate. Fan out the slices and drizzle over the haskap gastrique. This sauce packs a punch so a little goes a long way. How much you want to use is up to you. Enjoy!