How to Cook Duck Breasts (with Recipes)

This roasted duck breast with plum, ginger and red wine sauce is just one of the recipes you will find on this page
This roasted duck breast with plum, ginger and red wine sauce is just one of the recipes you will find on this page

Duck in general can often represent an extremely under rated eating experience. There are some people who consider duck meat to be greasy and/or tough, certainly in comparison to chicken or turkey. While duck can at times unfortunately justify these criticisms, this is generally a sign either that the duck has been inappropriately cooked or has not been granted sufficient resting time. Purchasing duck breast fillets is one of the best ways of ensuring that you and your family enjoy your duck eating experience to the full but - especially as they can be a little bit pricey - it is important to decide in advance precisely how you are going to cook them and with what you intend they be served. This page is devoted both to providing easy to follow cooking instructions for duck breasts and a number of deliciously tasty serving ideas.

Preparing the Duck Breast Fillets for Cooking

These duck breast fillets were bought ready to cook
These duck breast fillets were bought ready to cook
The skin of the duck breast is scored in a criss cross fashion
The skin of the duck breast is scored in a criss cross fashion
Duck breast is laid in a cold, dry pan, skin side down
Duck breast is laid in a cold, dry pan, skin side down

When cooking duck breasts, there are a few standards which will apply in most instances - and in all recipes featured on this page - which it is as well to cover here, once only. Firstly, however, it is important to know that if you buy duck breasts frozen, they must be safely defrosted completely before being cooked in any way. The best way to do this is in a covered dish, on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator, overnight.

The skin and subcutaneous fat should always be left on a duck breast when cooking. This not only keeps the meat moist, it adds considerably to the flavour. Begin by laying the duck breast flesh side down on a chopping board and scoring through the skin and fat only in a criss cross fashion with a cleaver or very sharp knife. Season at this stage with salt and freshly ground black pepper (or whatever seasoning your recipe calls for) and massage the seasoning gently in to the duck breast.

Lay the duck breast skin side down in a cold, dry pan. Put the heat on to low and increase gradually over the course of a couple of minutes as the fat begins to melt and lubricate the pan. From this point onwards, each recipe will vary and full instructions will be included as required.

Pan Fried Duck Breast with Redcurrant Jelly on Potato and Parsnip Mash

The pan fried duck breast is rested before being sliced and served on the bed of mash, garnished with some parsley and redcurrant jelly
The pan fried duck breast is rested before being sliced and served on the bed of mash, garnished with some parsley and redcurrant jelly
Duck breast is rested on a warmed plate
Duck breast is rested on a warmed plate
Parsley and garlic is stirred through the mash
Parsley and garlic is stirred through the mash
Sliced duck breast is laid on top of the mash
Sliced duck breast is laid on top of the mash

Ingredients per Portion

1 duck breast
1 large starchy/floury potato
1 medium parsnip
1 tsp homemade redcurrant jelly
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley plus extra for garnish
Sea salt, black pepper and white pepper

Method

Peel and roughly chop the parsnip and potato. Add them to a pot of cold, slightly salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer for twenty-five minutes.

Cook the duck breast on its skin side for a total of twelve minutes, gently for the first two and then increasing to a medium heat. Turn over and cook for five minutes on the flesh side. Remove from the pan to a preheated plate, cover with foil and allow to rest for five minutes.

Drain the potato and parsnip and return them to the pot. A little butter may be added here to assist in the mashing process. Season with white pepper and mash with a hand masher. Only at this stage should the parsley be stirred through with a spoon.

Make a bed on the plate with the mash. Slice the duck breast in to three or four pieces and arrange on top of the mash. Garnish with the redcurrant jelly and remaining parsley.

Crispy Duck Breast and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing

The crispy duck slices are laid on top of the dressed fig salad
The crispy duck slices are laid on top of the dressed fig salad
Fig, lime and clementine form the fruit ingredients
Fig, lime and clementine form the fruit ingredients
Citrus dressing is combined in a bowl
Citrus dressing is combined in a bowl
Fig and clementine prepared for crispy duck salad
Fig and clementine prepared for crispy duck salad
Duck breast slices are crisped in their own fat
Duck breast slices are crisped in their own fat
Fig salad is ready for the crispy duck
Fig salad is ready for the crispy duck

This delicious duck breast salad can be served completely cold if desired, perhaps as a tasty summer lunch. In this instance, however, the duck breast slices are added to the salad hot, straight from the frying pan.

Ingredients per Portion

1 duck breast
Handful of fresh watercress (or green herb of choice)
1 clementine (seedless tangerine)
1 fresh fig
Juice of half a lime
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp orange blossom honey
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

The duck breast in this instance is firstly fried for ten minutes on the skin side and five minutes on the flesh side. It should be a little bit pink on the inside. Once again, lay it on a warmed plate and cover with foil to rest. Sit the pan containing the fat and juices aside as it will be needed again.

Pour the olive oil in to a small glass bowl. Add the lime juice and the honey. Season lightly with salt and black pepper. Whisk with a small hand whisk or fork to fully combine.

Wash the fig and snip off the top and bottom. Cut in to eight segments. Peel the clementine and separate the segments. There is no need to remove the skin from these delicate segments but it can be removed if desired. Mix the clementine and fig segments in a bowl with the watercress.

When the duck is rested, slice with a cleaver to a thickness of around half an inch. Bring the pan containing the duck fat back up to a high heat and fry the duck breast slices for one minute each side.

Plate the salad and drizzle with the citrus dressing. Remove the duck from the frying pan to a plate covered with kitchen paper. Allow to drain and dry for a minute or so before arranging on top of the salad for immediate service. If desired, some toasted sesame seeds, or perhaps some crushed cashew nuts, could be added as a final garnish.

Gordon Ramsay Cooks Duck Breast with Gooseberry Sauce

Stir Fried Duck Breast with Ginger on Braised Savoy Cabbage

Shredded Savoy cabbage and garlic for braising
Shredded Savoy cabbage and garlic for braising
Onion and mushrooms ready for stir frying
Onion and mushrooms ready for stir frying
Chop the rested duck to stir fry
Chop the rested duck to stir fry
Make a bed of the Savoy cabbage on a plate
Make a bed of the Savoy cabbage on a plate

Duck breast is a popular stir frying ingredient in Chinese cookery. This recipe is as simple as could be but instead of being served with rice, it is served with some sauteed Savoy cabbage, just for a little bit of a change.

Ingredients per Portion

1 duck breast
1 small onion
6 closed cup mushrooms
½ tsp grated ginger root
2 large leaves of Savoy cabbage
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly torn basil leaves to garnish

Method

Again, the duck breast should firstly be fried for ten minutes on the skin side, five minutes on the flesh side and allowed to rest, covered with foil, on a heated plate.

Shred the Savoy cabbage and peel and slice the garlic clove. Add them to the duck fat in the pan and season, to sautee for seven or eight minutes on a gentle heat. Stir around frequently.

When the duck breast is rested, cut it in half lengthways. Chop each half in to four or five bite sized pieces.

Peel and quarter the onion. Bring the oil up to a high heat in a wok and add the onion and mushroom to stir fry for about a minute. Add the duck and grate the ginger root in to the wok for a further minute. Taste for seasoning.

Lay the sauteed Savoy cabbage as a bed on a plate, arrange the stir fried duck on top, garnish with torn basil leaves and serve.

Roast Breast of Duck with Plum and Ginger Sauce

This oven roasted duck breast is sliced, topped with plum and ginger sauce and served with fried rice
This oven roasted duck breast is sliced, topped with plum and ginger sauce and served with fried rice
Duck breast is pan sealed before being roasted
Duck breast is pan sealed before being roasted
Plums are halved and stoned
Plums are halved and stoned
Plums are added to reduced wine and stock
Plums are added to reduced wine and stock
Fried rice is shaped in a small bowl
Fried rice is shaped in a small bowl

Ingredients per Portion

1 duck breast
3oz basmati rice
½ glass red wine
4 tbsp fresh chicken stock
1 large plum
½ tsp sugar (or to taste)
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp frozen peas
Good splash of dark soy sauce
Sea salt and black pepper
Sunflower oil for stir frying
Sprig of basil for garnish

Method

It is necessary to first of all cook the rice by boiling it. Wash it through a sieve and add it to a pot of boiling, slightly salted water. Simmer for twelve minutes. Drain through the sieve, spread out on a plate, cover and allow to cool for one hour.

Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C. Start frying the duck breast as above but cook only for a couple of minutes each side and be sure to brown all around. Place your ovenproof frying pan in to the oven for ten minutes.

Pour the red wine in to a saucepan and put it on to a high heat. Let it boil hard for a few minutes to reduce. Add the chicken stock and keep the simmer going. Grate in the ginger. Half the plum, remove the stone and half each portion again. Add to the pot.

Bring the oil up to a high heat in a wok. Add the rice, the frozen peas and soy sauce. Cook on a high heat, stir frying for about a minute.

Line a small bowl with plastic wrap, ensuring the plastic overlaps by at least an inch. Pack the rice in to it and invert on the serving plate. Lift the bowl away (holding the edges of the plastic) and peel off the plastic.

Slice the duck breast in to three or four portions. Lay on the plate - skin side down in this instance - and spoon the plum and ginger sauce over the top. Garnish the rice with the basil sprig and serve.

Do You Like to Cook Duck Breasts?

I hope that you have enjoyed this page on duck breast recipes and that you have found it useful.

Thank you for visiting. Any comments or feedback which you have may be left in the space just slightly below.

4.7 stars from 3 ratings of these duck breast recipes!

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Comments 10 comments

jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 4 years ago from Scotland

A very well written and Illustrated Hub Gordon, the duck looks mouth watering especially with the Plum and ginger sauce, that is a recipe i will be sure to try in the very near future.

you are a man of many talents Gordon thanks for sharing.....jimmy


lovepug profile image

lovepug 4 years ago from Switzerland

I know this recipe, I've seen several recipe from Gordon Ramsay as well. The duck taste amazing, yet the cooking technique is so simple. Credit goes to you to for writing it well!


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Cheers, Jimmy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Best to you,

Gordon

Hi, lovepug. Thanks for visit and comment. Appreciate it.


brittanytodd profile image

brittanytodd 4 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

These photos are making my mouth water! Great hub!


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Thanks, Brittany. I hope you get a chance to try out some of these ideas.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 4 years ago from Yorkshire

HI Gordon

I love duck, and some of your recipes here sound really good. The plum and ginger sauce I will definitely have a crack at. The Chinese regard eating duck as lucky, not for the duck I hasten to add.

cheers


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Tony. Interesting about the Chinese considering eating duck lucky - I didn't know that! Glad you like the ideas. Thanks.


stessily 4 years ago

Gordon: Superbly presented with clear, helpful photos. I love red currant jelly, and it's genius to incorporate those wonderful parsnips into the same recipe. Thank you for including Gordon Ramsay with his gooseberry sauce.

My ideal neighborhood would feature your house on one side and Gordon Ramsay on the other; even if y'all didn't share your cooking, I'd still be euphoric from the aromas! All the votes.

Kind regards, Stessily


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Gordon, duck is one of my favourite meats and I have plenty of parsnips in the garden, so that recipe is for me, but they all sound delicous, thank you.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Stessily. I'm glad that you like the recipes and love your analogy of the houses. I obviously can't speak for Gordon Ramsay - but you can be sure I would happily share! :) Thanks for your visit and comment.

Hi, Movie Master. I hope this gives you another option for using up your parsnips and that you enjoy the dish. I honestly believe the duck and parsnips worked really well together. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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