Duck Breasts with Port Plum Glaze

Photo by Jim Norton


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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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Tip:
  6. - 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).

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Jane Rodmell