Duck Breast With Plum Sauce
One of my absolute favorite things to make when entertaining guests is duck breast. It is usually something people only get in nice restaurants and thus think it is more complicated than it is. The truth is it takes less than 20 minutes to make this delicious Duck Breast With Plum Sauce and it looks so impressive. And to top it off, you’ll end up with a bunch of reserved duck fat perfect for your next morning breakfast potatoes!
Many grocery stores sell duck in the poultry freezer section so finding some shouldn’t be an issue. What you do need to make sure you get is Grade A Skin On. This means the breast is plump and juicy with an even layer of fat. And of course you want the skin on so you can crisp it up yourself. Duck breast with plum sauce is a well balanced dish with a surprisingly easy recipe.
A duck breast will come in at around 400-500 grams assuming you get a good quality one, which means that one breast can serve two people. Of course, when I am cooking for myself I make a whole one for me since I’m a glutton for duck.
How To Cook Duck Breast?
The best way to cook a duck breast is part sear, part bake. Begin by heavily salting the breasts on both sides. If you are worried about putting too much salt on, don’t be. The salt won’t be able to permeate the meat much, so you have to put a lot on the outside. To sear the duck breast, put the fillet skin side down in a cold pan. Turn the flame onto the lowest setting and slowly let the fat render out. Once the fat starts to bubble around the edges, turn the heat up just a bit. Continue raising the heat a little bit until you reach medium-high.
Once it looks like a lot of fat has rendered, check the duck breast for color. It should be a golden brown like the picture above with fairly even color the entire way through. At this point flip the duck breast to skin side up and cook in the pan for one to two minutes.
If your pan is oven safe then you can move the entire pan to the oven at 215 Celsius for 3-7 minutes, depending on the doneness you prefer. If not then move your duck breast fillets to a baking dish. The smart move here is to place your baking dish in the hot oven at the beginning and then move your duck breasts directly in there right from the pan.
Duck breast is not like chicken. As a meat it behaves a lot more like a filet mignon than a chicken breast and you absolutely want it pink in the center. After pulling the fillets out of the oven you have to let it sit for 5 minutes on a counter just like you would a steak. Then slice into two bite pieces before plating.
What About The Plum Sauce?
Luckily the plum sauce doesn’t take much time at all, and should be made while the duck is in the oven. You just need about 175 grams of plum jam, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, 250 ml of chicken stock, and about 150 ml of Red Wine.
Whisk that together and put it on a pan. Bring to a simmer to reduce until slightly thickened. This part takes about 10 minutes, which is just baking time + resting time for the duck breast. Perfect timing right!?!
I like to arrange the duck breast in slices on the plate, and then drizzle some of the plum sauce right over it. I find this to be an impressive presentation, without being stingy by only giving a few slices and making it more into art. Not that I have anything against that, but when I’m entertaining I would rather guests be too full than still hungry. As duck is so rich I do pair it with a summer salad 95% of the time, but you could go with roasted veggies, or even some mashed potatoes.
Duck Breast With Plum Sauce Cooking Notes
Do not throw away the rendered fat. You can use it for so many different recipes, like roasted or fondant potatoes, roasted vegetables, or even added to red pasta sauces for a richer flavor.
If you don’t like plums, you can use plenty of different fruits for the sauce. I recommend stone fruits like cherries, apricots, or nectarines, but you can also go with apples, raspberries, or blackberries if you like. Or you can do something really funky like making a black bean sauce to brush on the slices like I do in my duck with Vietnamese style noodles recipe.
Some people recommend cross hatching the skin with a knife before salting and rendering. I personally don’t like doing this as I find the final cuts to be more difficult and less clean, but if you do just make sure to not cut all the way down to the meat.
Duck Breast With Plum Sauce
- 2 Duck Breasts patted dry and heavily salted on both sides
- 170 grams Plum Jam
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 250 ml Chicken Stock or duck stock if you have it. If you butcher your own whole ducks you should make your own stock with the carcass.
- 150 ml Red Wine
- 1 pinch Black Pepper freshly cracked
- Preheat your oven to 215 Celsius.
- In a cold pan lay the duck breast fillets skin side down. Turn the fire onto the lowest setting and slowly render the fat. Once the fat begins to bubble around the edges of the breast, turn the heat up a little at a time until you are at medium high. Check to see if the skin is golden brown, then flip and cook the other side for one minute.
- Flip the breasts back to skin side down and move the pan to the oven and bake for 7 minutes. If your pan is not oven safe you will have to move the fillets to a baking dish that has been sitting in the oven since the beginning so it stays hot. While it is baking you can start the plum sauce.
- Remove the duck from the oven and let rest on a counter top for 5 minutes.
- Cut the breasts into about 1 cm thick slices. Plate and spoon over some of the plum sauce directly from the pan.
- Whisk together the jam, mustard, stock, red wine, and black pepper.
- Simmer the mixture in a pan for about 10 minutes (baking and resting time for the duck breasts) until it is slightly thickened and reduced.