Seared Duck Breasts with Cherry-Port Sauce

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 5

Duck breast has a fairly thick, fatty skin. When the breast is seared, some of the fat melts away, flavoring the meat in the process, and the skin turns a lovely golden brown. To accomplish this, place the breast, skin side down, in the pan to start, as this speeds up the fat-melting process without overcooking the breast. Accompany with our Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes.


  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 4 boneless duck breast halves, preferably Muscovy, each 6 to 8 oz.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup port
  • 1 Tbs. chicken demi-glace
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces


In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the broth until steam begins to rise from the surface, about 3 minutes. Add the dried cherries and remove from the heat. 

Season the duck breast halves with salt and pepper. Using a sharp knife, score the skin by making a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat. 

Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Place 2 duck breast halves, skin side down, in the pan and cook until the skin is very crisp and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the duck over and cook until the meat is just springy when pressed, 3 to 5 minutes more for rare to medium-rare, or until done to your liking. Transfer the duck to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Pour off the excess fat from the pan, reserving the fat for another use. Repeat to cook the remaining duck breast halves.

Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan. Set the pan over medium heat, add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the port, bring to a boil and cook until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and cherries and the demi-glace, and cook until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butter and whisk until completely incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Using a sharp carving knife, cut the duck across the grain into thin slices and arrange on a warmed platter. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.
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