Recipes Main Courses Poultry and Game Seared Duck Breast with Pinot Noir Sauce
Seared Duck Breast with Pinot Noir Sauce

Seared Duck Breast with Pinot Noir Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Duck and Pinot Noir are a classic combination. Look for Muscovy duck breasts for this recipe; they are generally larger and have a lower fat-to-meat ratio than the breasts of other duck varieties. Jars of demi-glace are sold in specialty-food stores. Serve the duck with our Potato and Apple Galette plus Savoy Cabbage and Turnips, and pour your best Pinot Noir.


  • 2 boneless whole duck breasts, each about 1 1/2 lb.
  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 green onions, including tender green tops,
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter

For the Pinot Noir sauce:

  • 3 green onions, including tender green tops,
  • 1/2 lb. small fresh shiitake mushrooms, brushed
      clean and stems removed
  • 1 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs. demi-glace
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Cut each whole duck breast in half to yield 4 halves total. Working with 1 duck breast half at a time, place it between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a meat pounder or heavy fry pan, pound it to an even thickness of about 3/4 inch. Using a sharp knife, score the skin in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the meat. Place the duck breast halves in a shallow nonreactive bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the wine, mustard and green onions. Pour the mixture evenly over the duck breasts, then turn the breasts to coat them evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Preheat an oven to 200°F.

Remove the duck breasts from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Season them lightly with salt and pepper. In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Place the duck breasts, skin side down, in the pan and cook until the skin is crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Turn the breasts over and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 8 minutes more. Transfer the duck breasts to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil and place in the oven to keep warm.

To make the sauce, drain off all but 3 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and set the pan over medium heat. Add the green onions and mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the wine, stock and demi-glace, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is reduced by one-fourth and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, cut each duck breast against the grain into slices 1/2 inch thick. Divide the slices evenly among warmed individual plates, fanning them. Spoon the sauce over and around the slices. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Entertaining, by George Dolese (Oxmoor House, 2004).