Cook duck breasts to perfection using a technique called pan-roasting. First the duck is seared in a fry pan on the stovetop, then it’s transferred to the oven to finish cooking.
Score the skin
Using a sharp knife, make a series of parallel cuts through the skin but not into the flesh. Make a second set of cuts at right angles to the first. This scoring will help the fat render so the skin becomes crisp.
Sear the breasts, skin side down
Season the breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof fry pan over high heat until very hot. Place the breasts, skin side down, in the pan and use a spatula to press them firmly into the hot pan.
Spoon off the fat
Sear for 2 minutes, tilting the pan and spooning out the accumulated fat.
Pan-roast the breasts
Place the pan in a preheated 400°F oven and roast for 6 minutes. Using tongs, turn the breasts over and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each breast registers 150°F.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Tools & Techniques (Gold Street Press, 2008).