If you’re on the lookout for a gourmet home-cooked meal that won’t require hours of work in the kitchen, you’ve come to the right place. Jennine Bryant, Mashed recipe developer, blogger, and photographer from The Marshside Pantry is passionate about creating tasty meals. Bryant follows a gluten-free diet and is enthusiastic about creating recipes that don’t compromise flavor or gastronomic quality. Her delicious recipe for duck breast with pomegranate sauce certainly feels like a fine dining experience.
If you’ve never eaten duck before, then you should definitely venture away from the usual poultry suspects for an evening and enjoy the new flavors. For those who enjoy duck but are intimidated about the idea of preparing it at home, Bryant has broken down the steps to make them foolproof. You’ll love her choice of pomegranate sauce, as it definitely pairs wonderfully with the duck. If you’re looking to impress a dinner guest or treat yourself to an epicurean experience, then read on for the recipe.
Gather the ingredients for your duck breast recipe
For starters, you’ll need duck breast, a fattier cut of the bird that produces flavorful meat. If it’s your first time sampling duck breast, you may notice it’s more similar to red meat than chicken. You’ll need salt, pepper, oil, butter, and thyme for cooking and seasoning the pieces of meat. Adding salt and pepper helps the meat tenderize and cook properly, enhancing the overall flavor. The flavor of duck is fairly pronounced, and a strong herb like thyme makes a good match.
For the sauce, you’ll need pomegranate juice as a base. Bryant remarks, "Many fruits go well with duck, you really can take your pick." However, she points out, "Pomegranate has a great flavor and isn’t something you often come across paired with duck — it’s always great to try something different!" We agree and love the addition of star anise for a layered taste. Some chicken stock is added to the salt to help thicken the consistency and make it richer. Finally, Bryant sprinkles on some pomegranate seeds at service for the full restaurant experience.
Prepare the duck breasts by trimming and scoring the skin
First of all, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit so that it’s ready in time. Duck breast isn’t too complicated to cook, but a few simple steps will increase your chances of success. You’ll want to trim off any excess fat hanging off the sides, then pat the duck breasts dry with a paper towel to remove water so that they can properly sear in the pan.
Next, take a sharp knife and score the duck skin in a criss-cross pattern. Bryant cautions, "Try to not cut through to the meat when doing this." This step is important to help the fat render from the meat so that the final result is tender and juicy. Finally, sprinkle some salt and pepper on both sides of the duck breasts and massage them in. Leave the breasts to rest for 15 minutes as they warm up to room temperature and absorb some of the seasoning.
Sear the duck breasts on one side
Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a cold ovenproof pan on the stovetop. This will give the meat time to heat up so that the fat slowly renders, resulting in a tender texture. Cook the duck breast skin-side down for five to six minutes on medium heat. Keep an eye on the meat — the aim is to cook it until the skin becomes golden and crispy.
Add butter and thyme to the pan and bake the duck
Turn the breasts over in the pan so that the golden skin side is facing up. Add the butter and sprigs of thyme to the pan, basting the duck breasts with the butter as it melts. Cook the second side for 30 to 60 seconds until the meat is nicely seared.
Next, place the ovenproof pan with the duck breasts in the preheated oven. Cook them for three to four minutes if you want the preparation to be rare, five to six minutes if you prefer your meat medium, and seven to eight minutes if you like it well-cooked. Bryant remarks that "Timings will vary slightly depending on the size of the duck breast."
If you’re not sure if it’s ready, Bryant recommends using a meat thermometer to get precise control of the internal temperature. Temperature charts can come in handy, and Bryant remarks, "Luckily, there are loads of great tips online about how to test the meat you are cooking." She warns, "It’s so easy to leave it a few minutes and then discover after resting it that it’s overdone."
Allow the duck to rest and prepare the pomegranate sauce
Once the duck is cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meat to a plate or cutting board to rest. Discard the sprigs of thyme but retain the juices from the meat. Pour the pomegranate juice into the pan with the star anise, and simmer the contents for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced by half. Next, pour in the chicken stock and cook the sauce for one to two minutes while the ingredients combine. Once the sauce has reached a thicker consistency, remove it from the heat.
Slice the duck breast and serve with vegetables
Now that the duck breasts have had the chance to rest, it’s time to slice them up. Serve the slices on a plate with a drizzle of pomegranate sauce and a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds. Bryant recommends plating the duck alongside some steamed vegetables such as green beans. She remarks, "You could definitely serve this recipe with starchy sides too." She recommends mashed potato, potato gratin, fries, or rice — they all sound equally tempting to us.
While Bryant notes that the sauce stores well, she says, "I think duck is always best eaten fresh so you retain that crisp skin and the juicy succulence." If you have duck leftovers, they can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but she remarks, "It loses that wow factor." This is a good meal to prepare and serve with an appetite!
- 2 duck breasts
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for frying (if you don’t have a non-stick pan)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 star anise
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Trim the excess skin from the duck breasts, then pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Using a sharp knife, score the skin in a criss-cross pattern, avoiding cutting through to the meat.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on both breasts, and massage the seasoning into the meat.
- Let the breasts sit for 15 minutes to warm up to room temperature.
- Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a cold oven-proof pan with oil, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the skin is golden and crisp.
- Turn the breasts over and add the butter and thyme sprigs to the pan.
- Baste the breasts with the melted butter, and cook them for 30 to 60 seconds until the breasts are seared.
- Place the pan with the duck breasts into the oven for 3 to 4 minutes for a rare preparation, 5 to 6 minutes if you prefer them medium done, and 7 to 8 minutes if you want the duck to be well-cooked. (Timings will vary slightly depending on the size of the duck breast.)
- Take the pan out of the oven using oven mitts, and remove the meat from the pan.
- Set it aside to rest, and discard the thyme but retain the leftover juices in the pan to make the sauce.
- Add the pomegranate juice to the pan along with the star anise and simmer the contents for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.
- Add the chicken stock and cook for another minute or two until the sauce is properly combined and has thickened.
- Slice the duck breast and serve it with pomegranate sauce, fresh pomegranate seeds, and a side of freshly steamed vegetables.