Duck Breasts with Port Plum Glaze
When chilly winds blow, serve up a treat. Fresh duck is available in late fall and early winter; frozen is easy to find year-round. Duck breasts are quick and simple to prepare, and a sweet, tangy fruit sauce is a perfect foil to their rich flavour. But remember: It’s a crime to throw duck fat away. Save it to make the most amazing fried potatoes.
- Serves: 4
- 4 boneless duck breasts, skin on, about 6 oz (180 g) each
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 6 prune plums or prunes, pitted and sliced
- 1 tbsp sugar (15 ml)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (15 ml)
- 1 1/4 cups veal or chicken stock (300 ml)
- 1/4 cup port (60 ml)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Place duck breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound lightly to an even thickness. With a knife, score skin in a 3/4" (2 cm) diamond pattern. Don’t cut into flesh.
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, place breasts skin-side down. Let cook undisturbed for 5 minutes, scooping out excess fat regularly (save fat for another use). Continue cooking until only 1/4" (6 mm) fat remains on duck and skin is a rich golden brown, 4–6 minutes more. If skin darkens too quickly, reduce heat. Turn duck breasts over, remove from pan and let stand, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes.
- Remove all but 2 tbsp (30 ml) fat from pan. Add shallot and sauté until soft, 2–3 minutes. Add plums or prunes and sugar; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes more, until fruit is soft. Add vinegar, scraping up all the good brown bits on the bottom of pan. Add stock, port, thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring. Lower heat and simmer until sauce reduces by about half and coats the back of a spoon, 5–6 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs. Adjust seasoning.
- To serve: Place duck breast skin-side down on a cutting board. Cut on the diagonal through the flesh and crispy skin to make slices about 1/2" (1 cm) thick. Arrange sliced duck on a warm dinner plate and spoon sauce over top.
- - Duck breasts should be moist and pink inside—cooked like a rare to medium-rare steak. Test for doneness with a finger poke: The meat should resist a little without being too firm. On an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 130°F– 140°F (55°C–60°C).