Many people wonder how to cook duck breast & think that it is hard. Well let share the big secret - it's actually really easy. Here's a step by step guide & my favorite duck breast recipe.
Where do I buy duck breasts?
Sometimes it can be challenging to find duck breasts locally on their own—big shocker.
I recommend looking at Whole Foods, premium grocers or at your local butcher for your duck.
I prefer to use duck from Mary's Poultry. Mary's Poultry sells free-range poultry without added antibiotics, hormones, preservatives or additives, & are raised on a vegetarian diet.
If you are in the market to have your duck meat shipped, definitely check out Mary's!
Are ducks poultry?
While ducks are 100% poultry, it should be cooked more like beef.
For example, when I cook steak, I prefer it to be cooked rare - medium-rare. I like my duck slightly more done than my steak, so I will cook my duck to medium.
I would not recommend eating duck well-done for those who prefer their steak well-done. A well-done piece of duck will end up making your duck chewy & gross.
Thawed or frozen?
Only use fully thawed duck breasts for this recipe.
Why do I brine my duck meat?
Brining your meat will insure that the moisture is kept intact throughout the cooking process, while making your meat even more delicious.
Are duck breasts gluten-free?
Naturally, ducks themselves are 100% gluten-free. The only thing that would make it not gluten-free would be if gluten were added through a batter or a sauce.
Let's talk about preparing your duck breast:
One of the biggest tips I can give you for cooking duck is to score the fat like so - in a cross hatch pattern. Be sure to cut only through the skin and fat, not into the meat.
A duck breast's skin should be a flawless, thin layer of crispy golden brown deliciousness.
Before cooking, the duck breast's skin is scored, allowing the rendered fat to flow out.
What kind of duck breasts do I need for this recipe?
Make sure your breasts are skin-on! A different set of rules must be followed for skinless breasts. If you use skinless duck breasts, you can still brine them, but your cooking method should be entirely different.
What kind of tea do I use in this recipe?
You will need to use black tea for this recipe.
If you would like to change it up a bit -- use an orange pico tea or a black spiced tea blend if you feel like the flavor profile will blend nicely with the taste of duck meat.
For this recipe, you will need 2-3 medium boneless duck breasts, with the skin intact.
How long does the duck breast need to soak in the brine?
Brine and refrigerate for at least 4 hours - overnight is best.
What will I need to cook duck breast?
- Duck breasts
- Black tea bags
- Garlic bulbs
What to do with duck fat:
In addition to being very nutrient-dense, duck fat is excellent cooking fat. It can offer a distinct, mild flavor to any recipe using cooking oils, other animal fats, or butter.
Duck fat and potatoes make a particularly delightful combination. It also elevates the taste of other foods like mushrooms, green beans, Brussel sprouts, and spinach when sautéed in duck fat.
I never met a duck fat French Fry I didn't like.
How to serve duck breast:
You can slice and serve duck breast over a bed of greens or as part of a salad, or simply as a main dish with any sides you choose. I like to warm some orange marmalade or apricot preserves with a bit of duck fat and a spoonful of grainy mustard for a quick sauce, or sauté sliced kumquats in duck fat and a little white wine or tea and serve that over the top.
Tea-Brined Duck Breast
- 2-3 medium boneless duck breasts skin intact
for the brine:
- 1 cup brewed black tea
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt Diamond
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 garlic bulbs smashed
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Brine the duck breast:
- Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the salt and sugar has dissolved. Allow the brine to cool (I often throw in a few ice cubes) and pour into a large zip-top bag. Add the duck breasts to the brine and refrigerate for at least 4 hours - overnight is best.
Prepare the duck:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the duck from the brine and thoroughly pat dry. Score skin using a criss-cross pattern, being careful not to cut into breast meat. Season the duck on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Warm a heavy-bottom or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place breast skin-side down for 8–10 minutes or until fat is rendered and skin is crisp and brown. Turn the breasts over and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
- Place the skillet in the oven for 5–6 minutes or until temperature reaches 155°F. Remove the duck from the oven and allow to rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing (temperature should reach 165°F while resting.) Slice thinly and serve.
Photos by James Collier
Are you a fan of duck? Check this out:
Far beyond its meat, ducks have a lot to offer. The duck is a very versatile item that may be used in a variety of culinary recipes.
Many people won't cook duck because they are so fatty. Ducks are semi-aquatic animals, so to assist them in floating and keep them warm in the water, they have a thick layer of fatty tissue.
However, there should not be much fat left on the meat once the duck has finished cooking. Proper cooking technique for duck renders out much of the fat.
Yes, duck is ideal for the Keto diet, due mostly to the ratio of fat to meat and the many ways duck can be prepared.
Yes, brining duck meat helps balance the moisture in the meat and mellow any gamey flavor. Mallards and other large whole birds must brine for a minimum of 12 to 15 hours. They won't be harmed by soaking for 24 hours in a brine, but any longer than that may make them too salty.
You should brine duck breasts for 4 to 12 hours. Even a few hours in the brine will be helpful if you don't have much time.
Medium or large duck breast require cooking fat-side down to crisp the skin and render fat for 6-8 minutes, another 1-2 minutes on the other side, and about 5 minutes in a hot oven to reach medium. In total, most duck breasts cook for 12-15 minutes.
The breasts of wood ducks, wigeons, and gadwalls, which are small to medium-sized ducks, require 3-5 minutes on the fat side to cook. Breasts from domestic ducks, pintail ducks, canvasback ducks, and mallards require 6-8 minutes on the fat side.