Seared Duck Breasts with Blood Oranges
Sometimes couples are just meant to be together — they work so well together that it’s hard to imagine them apart. (We’re thinking Fred & Ginger, Bert & Ernie, and our very good friends, Ben & Jerry, but feel free to ponder your own favorites here.) It’s a little like that with duck meat and citrus, one of the most iconic duos in culinary history. We’ve taken that combination and created a modern, easy-to-cook version for even a new-to-duck home cook.
Duck is one of our favorite proteins — it’s so tender, succulent, and meaty. If you haven’t cooked it before, this recipe is a great place to start because it calls for just the breasts. (Which, by the way, are easy to find in our frozen meat case, or if you prefer, you can ask our very friendly butchers for fresh ones.) We’ve also kept it simple by pan frying them with nothing but salt and pepper. It’s such flavorful meat, it doesn’t need more than that, and of course, the sauce brings plenty of complexity.
In the process of cooking the duck, some of its fat layer renders. We love duck fat because it’s velvety yet clean; you get all the richness of butter in a fairly neutral form. Here, we use it as the base for a sweet-tart, peppery pan sauce of blood oranges, shallots, and sherry vinegar. Layering the lush duck meat with that tart trill of citrus creates a dish that sings. We’ve made it even jazzier by serving it on a bed of loose frisée and fresh blood oranges — a very crisp, very juicy salad that turns the dish into an elegant, satisfying meal. We’d definitely serve it with a baguette: you don’t want any of that sauce to go to waste.
Our tip: In the test kitchen, we wait until the duck is done cooking to peel and section the oranges. That way, the sections are still holding all of their juices when we put them in the pan — more juice, more flavor, better sauce.
2 medium duck breasts, thawed if frozen
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 blood oranges, divided
1 shallot, chopped
3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
6 cups loose frisée, for serving
Score the skin of the duck breasts, and season them with salt and pepper. Place the breasts skin-side down in a cold medium skillet. Cook over low heat until the fat is rendered and the skin is a dark golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
Baste the duck with the rendered fat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until the duck reaches 140° internally for medium doneness. Transfer the duck breasts to a plate to rest for 5 minutes, skin-side up.
Meanwhile, cut the peel and white pith from the oranges. Cut along the sides of the membranes to release the segments into a medium bowl.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the skillet. Add the shallots, vinegar, and half the orange segments. Season with salt and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes.
Thinly slice the duck and serve it over the frisée with the pan sauce and remaining orange segments.
Recipe adapted from: epicurious