Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cherry Port Wine Reduction

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cherry Port Reduction

I’ve been on a duck kick lately and this post features my latest creation. For some reason I think of fall when duck comes to mind and this dish’s mix of sweet and savory flavors makes the perfect autumn dinner. If you’re entertaining, this presentation will impress your guests.

A few months ago, I made a duck and sweet potato gumbo. When I was creating this recipe, I roasted a whole duck. Prior to roasting I trimmed all the excess skin and fat from the duck and rendered the fat that I used to make the roux. At the time I thought the gumbo was a little decadent because of the duck fat.

I’ve since done a little research and it turns out that duck fat isn’t so unhealthy after all. In fact, as animal fat goes, it possesses some healthful qualities. Duck fat is high in monounsaturated fats which can actually improve cardiovascular health. I’m not making the case that you should eat large quantities of this fat, but because of the amazing flavor it adds to food, I’m not going to be afraid of it either.

I recently purchased a bag of duck fat from the local farmers market. I rendered the fat and keep in the freezer so that I can use small amounts whenever I need it. If you’ve never roasted potatoes with duck fat you are really missing out! Just last night, I roasted cubed sweet potatoes with duck fat and they were unbelievably delicious.

In conclusion, I just wanted to mention something that surprises some people that are not familiar with duck. Unlike chicken and turkey, duck can be eaten medium rare. Because of the way ducks are raised and processed they are not as susceptible to the same bacteria that are present on raw chicken and turkey.

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cherry Port Wine Reduction

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 1 duck breast

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cherry Port Wine Reduction


For the sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons minced shallots

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 cup Ruby Port wine

1 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup frozen cherries, cut in half

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons butter

For the duck breasts:

6 8 ounce duck breasts

Salt and pepper


For the sauce:

1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots and rosemary for one minute.

2. Add port wine, chicken stock, vinegar, cherries, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Mash cherries with the back of a fork. Increase heat and reduce to approximately 1 1/4 cups. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

3. Transfer sauce to a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. If making the sauce ahead of time, store blended sauce in refrigerator until serving.

4. Immediately prior to serving, transfer sauce back to skillet and heat through. Add butter and whisk until melted and incorporated.

For the duck breasts.

1. Score the skin of the breasts with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern.

2. Place a large iron or non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Place breasts in skillet, skin side down. Cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or fat is rendered.

3. Increase heat to medium high heat and turn breasts meat side down. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Turn skin side down again for 1 to 2 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees for medium rare. If you prefer the breasts be medium, continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 140 to 145 degrees. Cooking time can vary according to thickness of breasts.

4. Let duck rest for five to ten minutes. Slice and serve over a pool of cherry port reduction.

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Bill Harris

I grew up in small town Mississippi eating traditional southern fare.A lifelong foodie, I started cooking and experimenting with food at a very young age. I started Southern Boy Dishes as a creative outlet and a way to share my love of food.

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Speak Your Mind

  1. Kaela says

    I’ve been cooking up a storm now that I’ve come home from college and tonight your duck dish was on the menu. It was really wonderful! Although, I don’t think I reduced my sauce enough.

    I paired it with roasted fingerling potatoes, duck fat sautéed wild mushrooms and an arugula salad with an orange-mustard vinaigrette. It as divine and my parents loved it. I’ll for sure check out your other recipes and will be making this one again.

    • says

      Hi Kaela, thanks so much for visiting Southern Boy Dishes and leaving a comment. I always appreciate feedback and I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. Your menu sounds absolutely delicious. I think the potatoes and mushrooms make excellent accompaniments to the duck. Thanks again and I hope you and your family have great holidays!

  2. Virginia says

    This recipe was awesome!! The sauce is really tasty- I actually cut back the butter to 1 tbs and it was still very rich and smooth. We are thinking of making this the next time we host christmas.

    • says

      Thank you so much, Virginia! I’m glad the recipe worked out for you. I really appreciate getting feedback on my recipes. Thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll come back soon!

  3. says

    Mercy! I loooooooooooooooove duck. Seared and crispy, please. Cherries and duck are a match made in heaven. These are cooked to perfection. I haven’t found a source for duck fat, because I do know that this makes the BEST fries. (Like I need them?) Your plating and photography is always magazine front cover perfection.

  4. says

    So glad to hear that duck fat is actually a good fat! I love duck and duck confit so now I won’t worry about it. Can’t wait to roast some potatoes in duck fat. Thanks for that idea! Medium rare is definitely the best way to cook it and your duck looks perfect! Love the sauce!!!

  5. says

    Great dish! I make something a bit similar (a Paula Wolfert recipe). Port and duck is a dynamite combo, and I do prefer my duck medium rare. And I agree duck fat is amazing stuff! It’s great with roast potatoes, and I once ate at a restaurant where they fried their French fries in duck fat! Amazing fries – best I’ve ever eaten.

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