When attempting to impress a dinner party after a recent bird hunt, look no further than this duck breast recipe. We’re a big fan of duck breast recipes that feature the process of rendering off the fat, especially when we can use it to deep fry some of our favorite sweet potato fries. Don’t take this recipe lightly though, as searing a duck breast is tender, attentive work. Also, if you’re not a fan of curry, feel free to remove it from the fries recipe – but we’re tellin’ ya, it really pulls the dish together.
Seared Duck Breasts with Curry Sweet Potato Duck Fat Fries, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Salt Pork, and Red Wine Reduction
- Four (4) skin-on duck breasts (any variety)
- Fresh Thyme
- 1 large clove garlic, whole/smashed
Sweet Potato Fries
- Five (5) sweet potatoes
- 1 pint rendered duck fat
- Fry Brine (cold water, 3 Tbs of salt, 2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar)
- 2 Tbs curry powder
- 1 Tbs salt
- 1 Tbs pepper
Brussels Sprouts with Salt Pork
- ~2 lbs baby Brussels sprouts
- ~1lb salt pork
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Pepper to taste
Red Wine Reduction
- 1 cup red wine (any variety)
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- 2 Tbs butter or duck fat
Step 1. Organize your ingredients. In the culinary world, this is called mise en place, or “put in place.” Having everything laid out will be helpful when you’re doing two things at once, which will happen later on in this recipe.
Step 2. Score the fat on your duck breasts. This allows the fat to render out while cooking the meat. In diagonal lines, cut across the skin and fat, almost to the meat, then repeat the process so your cuts intertwine. When finished, they should look like the second image below.
Step 3. Cut up your salt pork. You’ll want to wash off the pork before cutting, as the outside tends to be extremely salty. Don’t wash too much though, as that salt will help season the Brussels sprouts during the roasting process. Slice into thick strips, and then cut strips perpendicularly into smaller strip portions. You should have a bowl or plate of salt pork that looks like the third image below.
Step 4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash baby Brussels sprouts, removing any loose outer leaves. Next, cut off the bottom brown “stalk” portion of each Brussels sprout. Once your Brussels sprouts have been cleaned, halve each one before tossing onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Aluminum foil isn’t necessary for the cooking process, but helps with cleanup.
Step 5. Mix baby Brussels sprouts, salt pork, minced garlic, and pepper on baking sheet. The fat that will render from the salt pork should be enough to roast the Brussels sprouts, but if your cut of salt pork seems lacking in fat add a drizzle of olive oil. Once the oven has reached 400 degrees, put it on the middle rack and set timer for 25 minutes.
Step 6. Prepare sweet potatoes for the duck fat fries. Begin by washing the outside of each potato thoroughly. I like the skin on my fries, but feel free to remove if you are not a fan.
Step 7. Once your potatoes are washed, cut off the end of each potato. Don’t cut too much, just enough to remove the pointy ends. This will help you keep uniformity to your fries, which is important when cooking vegetables – especially when frying. After cutting off the ends, halve each potato length wise.
Step 8. Once each potato has been halved, place potato skin side up and slice portions that are about a quarter of an inch thick. After slicing these portions, place them on their side and cut down the middle, which should create two equal sized fries. Don’t worry if one or two of your fries is not the same length – it’s the thickness that counts here. Once your fries have been cut, place them in a bowl of cold water with a heavy dose of salt and 2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar. This draws the moisture out of the fries so they turn out extra crispy. Leave fries in brine for at least fifteen to twenty minutes.
Step 9. While your fries are soaking in the cold water, salt and vinegar bath, go ahead and heat up the wine and beef stock for your reduction. Set to medium heat and begin reducing.
Step 10. Next, go ahead and crush your black peppercorns and kosher salt. If you have pre-ground salt and pepper, that works as well. Also, heat a medium-large pot over low heat and spoon the rendered duck fat into the pot to begin melting for frying later on.
Step 11. By now, your timer should have gone off for the Brussels sprouts. Pull them out of the oven and, using a pair of tongs, flip sprouts and salt pork so the fat rendering from the pork can be distributed evenly on all of the Brussels sprouts.
Step 13. The rendered duck fat should be melted by now. Turn up heat to medium-high and heat until fat reaches 325 degrees. The secret to the perfect fry is the double frying method, which has you cook the fries through in the oil at 325 degrees, then again after cooling for a few minutes at 350 degrees, which crisps the fries to perfection. Remove your fries from the cold water bath and dry thoroughly in a paper towel or cloth. Set aside for frying.
Step 14. The moment we’ve all been waiting for – the duck. Grab a COLD (this is super important!) skillet and place duck skin side down in pan. Place skillet on burner and set it to low. Allowing the fat time to render is crucial to getting the delicious, crispy duck skin we all know and love, so don’t try to speed things up by throwing this in a hot or even lukewarm pan – it WILL cause your skin to shrivel up into a disgusting, rubbery mess.
Step 15. While the fat is rendering from your duck, parfry your sweet potatoes for about 4 minutes. Do small batches, about 5 – 7 fries per batch, and place parfried potatoes on a plate to be double fried later on.
Step 16. Check on your duck. It should look something like the photo below – the breast meat should be pulling itself in and away from the pan. At this point (about 10 minutes after putting it in the pan), push the heat up to medium and drain fat that has accumulated in pan into the rendered duck fat container. SAVE THIS FOR LATER. Seriously, do not throw away duck fat. It is liquid gold.
Step 17. While keeping a close eye on your duck, begin frying the parfried potatoes to get them crispy and delicious. Heat the duck fat up to 350 degrees, and repeat the frying process in small batches. Once fries begin to take on a darkish brown color, remove from fat and place in a bowl with a paper towel at the bottom. This absorbs any excess fat that may have hung on after removal. Repeat process for remaining fries.
Check 18. Check your duck breast, and remove any additional fat that has rendered off. The fatty side of the duck should look close to the color in the photo below (or even a little bit darker, if you don’t mind your meat medium-well. We’re going for medium-rare, here). Remove from heat, and place on a cutting board SKIN SIDE UP with an aluminum foil tent. Repeat process for remaining duck breasts. At this point, your Brussels sprouts should be cooked. Lower your oven temp to “warm” or the lowest temperature setting until it’s time to plate.
Step 19. Place butter in skillet, and melt. While butter is melting, season your sweet potato fries while they’re still hot.
Step 20. Once butter has melted, add fresh thyme and garlic to the butter and let cook for about 1 minute. After the butter has had a chance to absorb those flavors, return duck breast to pan – skin side up – and cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes.
Step 21. Remove duck breast, thyme and garlic from butter and place on cutting board skin side up. Immediately tent your duck breast with a small piece of aluminum foil while you plate the dish. Add the remaining butter from the skillet to your red wine reduction, and stir. Remove Brussels sprouts from oven.
Step 22. First, plate your Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries. In front of fries, pour a small amount of the red wine reduction onto plate. You don’t want to pour this over the duck, as it would soften the crispy skin you worked so hard for. Once reduction has settled on plate, add your duck breast (sliced, or whole), skin side up, garnish and serve.
What are some of your favorite duck breast recipes? Share your best duck breast recipe in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this recipe, check out our Deer Hunter’s Thanksgiving, an espresso-rubbed venison tenderloin recipe.