How To Cook Duck Breast
Duck breast with golden crisp skin and a deeply rich and rosy interior can be better than a steak. I often wonder we don't cook more of it at home. I admit I often overlook this date-night alternative, but it truly has all the ease of chicken breast and decadence of steak.
You won't need more than a pan and a few simple prep tricks to make a gorgeous duck breast at home that rivals any restaurant prix-fixe entrée.
• Prep time: 5 minutes
• Cook time: 25 minutes
• Yield: Serves 2
• 2 skin-on White Pekin duck breasts (about 6 ounces each)
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1 large Yukon gold potato
• Measuring cups and measuring spoons
• Large cutting board
• Sharp chef’s knife
• 12-inch cast iron skillet
- Score the duck breast skin. About an hour before cooking, remove the duck breasts from the refrigerator and their packaging. Use a sharp knife to score the skin: Make 3 to 4 parallel shallow cuts into the skin, but not through it, in one direction, then make 3 to 4 shallow cuts in another direction, making a cross hatch or diamond pattern. Pat the duck breasts dry with paper towels.
- Season with salt and rest for 15 minutes. Season the breasts on all sides with salt (you might not use all the salt; that’s fine). Set aside and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the potato into small 1/2-inch cubes.
- Start in a cool pan to render out as much fat as possible. Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a large cast iron skillet and turn the heat to medium. You want to crisp the skin slowly, driving out as much of the fat as possible.
- Cook on the first side for 6 to 8 minutes. After 6 to 8 minutes, the pan will have filled with a substantial amount of fat from the skin. The skin should be a very dark golden-brown.
- Flip the breasts and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until they reach 135°F. Flip the breasts and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Add the potatoes to the pan right after you flip the breast. Cook until the breasts are plump and register 135°F in the thickest part of the breasts for medium-rare.
- Rest the duck for 5 minutes and continue to cook the potatoes until crisp. Remove the duck breasts to a clean plate or cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Continue cooking the potatoes, stirring regularly, until they are golden-brown on the outside and tender inside, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Slice the duck breasts and serve with the potatoes. Slice the duck breasts on the diagonal and serve over the potatoes with any accumulated juices on the resting plate.
- Once the duck breast is cooked and resting before slicing, you'll have this little gift of warm duck fat. Frying potatoes in this fat is a classic French approach to duck that an old friend (and culinary director for Good Eats) taught me. The little potato cubes are irresistible!
- But if you're serving the duck for date night, you may find sautéing a little garlic and some greens in the fat is a little more elegant. Either way, be sure to save any extra duck fat. Store it in the fridge and use it within two weeks.
- When your potatoes or greens are done, thinly slice the breast and serve immediately.
NOTES: Storage: Leftover duck and potatoes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
For Your Info:
• This recipe calls for two Pekin duck breasts, which are easier to find at most markets. If you can get your hand on wild or magret breast, be prepared for them to take longer in the rendering step, as they have quite a bit more fat.
• The breast will render about 1/2 cup of glorious duck fat. We're using it to crisp potatoes while the duck breasts rest, but you could also sauté greens or soften onions and apples in the pan while it's hot.
This great family recipe is thanks to The Kitchn Recipes at https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-duck-breast-254046