Seared Duck Breast with Pinot Noir and Blueberry Pan Sauce
Recipe by Levi Gogolinski
Photography by Sam Stringer
This recipe has the perfect ratio of effort to impressiveness. It's simple and classic, but incredibly satisfying. If you're in the south Okanagan, you can get frozen duck breasts at Black Sage Butcher - they'll take about two days to thaw out in the fridge, so be sure to plan ahead. Roasted baby potatoes are also a nice accompaniment if you aren't planning to save room for a dessert.
For the salad:
- greens of your choice, either arugula, baby spinach, or mixed greens
- 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1tbsp blueberry jam*
- 1tsp dijon mustard
- 2tbsp olive oil
*Cherry jam also works well for this recipe, but anything with seeds (raspberry or strawberry) gives the pan sauce an unpleasant crunch. I also don't recommend anything with reduced sugar or artificial sweetener. Bon Maman is my favourite brand for this recipe.
For a mixed six pack of the wines we recommend, click here!
1a. Pour yourself a glass of wine, I always like to start with something sparkling.
1. Take the duck breasts out of the fridge and place them on a sheet pan, ideally fitted with a rack on top. Score the skin, taking care to not go quite all the way to the meat, in a cross-hatch pattern. This will help the fat render more easily, allowing you to achieve crispier skin.
Salt it well on both sides with kosher salt, then let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 45 minutes on your sheet pan/rack.
2. While the duck comes to room temperature, make the dressing for your salad. In a small bowl, combine blueberry jam, balsamic vinegar, and dijon. Whisk together, then slowly stream in olive oil until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Place a steel or cast iron skillet large enough to fit both breasts on your stove - do not preheat your pan! - and put in a very small amount of duck fat or cooking oil. Place the breasts skin side down, then turn the heat on to medium (for larger breasts) or medium high (for smaller breasts). If you notice the thin end curling up, you can press it down with tongs lightly to ensure even browning.
4. Stand back and let the pan do its job! It will start to sizzle and kind of pop and crackle the way bacon does. This step should take 5-8 minutes, and will be about 3/4 of the way cooked before you flip. In the meantime, gather all your ingredients for the pan sauce so they're close by - Pinot Noir, blueberry jam, dijon mustard, and a couple of pats of butter.
5. When the sizzling starts to die down a bit, take a peek at the underside of your duck - if they are sufficiently browned, flip them over and immediately give them a light sprinkle of salt. They should require another 2-4 minutes, but you can check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer if you have one. The final step is to stand them up on the fatter long edge and lean them on each other just to brown that edge - about 30-40 seconds. One side of the fillet will be wider than the other, and this side will need some heat.
5. Generally, duck breast is served med-rare to medium. If this is how you'd like to eat it, pull them from the pan when an instant read thermometer reads 135 - they'll carry over about 5 degrees while they rest. (please note, the BCCDC recommends cooking duck to an internal temperature of 165, however you likely wouldn't find it cooked past medium in a restaurant). Place them on a cutting board skin side up, and let them rest for about 5 minutes while you make the pan sauce and dress your salad.
6. To make the pan sauce, as soon as you've removed the duck, you're going to want to deglaze your (still hot) pan with a few glugs of Pinot Noir - roughly 1/4c - while whisking to scrape up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom of your pan. Then, still while whisking, add in 1tbsp blueberry jam, 1tbsp dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp butter. Whisk until the sauce reduces enough that if you pull your spoon through it, a line remains for a few seconds. Pour into a small gravy boat or serving container with a spout.
7. Fill a large serving bowl with the greens of your choice and dress with your vinagrette.
8. Now that your duck has rested for about 5 minutes, slice it into 1cm pieces, then plate it, drizzle with the pan sauce, and enjoy!
We tested this recipe with multiple Stoneboat Pinot Noirs - each one worked perfectly. If you happen to have any 2015's still around, this would be the perfect occasion to break one out.