Seared Duck Breast sounds all fancy but it is so easy to make. All you need are duck breasts (one per person) and salt. Cook the duck low and slow. Eat it with a bowl of hot rice.
Seared duck breast on rice ^_^
Open our freezer and you'll find at least 5-6 packs of frozen duck breasts inside. This is our go-to, no frills dinner. The crazy part is that seared duck breast sounds all fancy, but it is one of the easiest things you can make.
Sear over low heat, skin side down (steps 2-3 in the recipe below). This is after 8 minutes of cooking.
Seared Duck Breast Method
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You only need two ingredients to make this dish:
- Duck breast (one per person)
- Salt (ideally Hawaiian Sea Salt)
First things first, cook rice! This dish is best with a bowl of rice.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the duck. I'm usually cooking for my husband and myself so we have two duck breasts. They're about 6-8 ounces each. If you have a bigger one (size depends on the type of duck, some duck breasts weight up to a pound each), you can split a bigger one between two people.
Take the duck out of the package and pat them real dry with a paper towel. Put them skin-side up on a cutting board and use a knife to make a tight crosshatch pattern/cut across the whole skin. You want to cut deep into the skin/fat, but you don't want to cut the meat. So go deep as you can through the fat, but make sure the knife blade and breast meat don't make contact.
Ready? Ok. Sprinkle salt (and pepper, if you'd like) all over the skin. Put the ducks, skin-side down on a pan. We use a cast iron pan for this (because it makes the skin extra crisp), but any type of pan you have will work.
Then turn on the heat. Turn the heat to low. Now we are going to render the fat and get this skin crispy. This process takes about 15-20 minutes.
The tin we use to store fat. We just throw it away and start a new container once it's filled.
Fat will start to pool at the bottom of the pan after a few minutes. Then the fat will start to splatter all over. To prevent this from happening, I pour out the fat every 5 minutes to keep my pan "clean" and not drowning in a pool of duck fat. How do you pour out the duck fat? There are two ways:
- One person method: Remove the ducks from the pan (put it on a cutting board). Then pour the fat out into a *tin container. Then put the ducks back in the pan and continue on cooking.
- Two person method: This method only works if there are two people. One person uses one hand to tilt the pan at an angle, and the other hand to hold a pair of tongs against the duck to keep them from sliding down the tilted pan. The other person uses a spoon to scoop out the duck fat into the tin.
*We keep a tin with animal fat in the freezer for this purpose. When then tin is full, we throw it out and start with a new tin. Where do these tins come from? They're leftover tins from the canned tomatoes used for Hawaiian Beef Stew!
After cooking skin-side down for 15-20 minutes, flip and cook the meat side down for about a minute (step 4 in the recipe below).
After 15-20 minutes, the skin should super nice and crisp! It should be all golden and beautiful. Now flip the duck breasts oven (skin-side up), and cook the meat side for just under a minute (maybe a bit more or less depending on the size of your duck and how well you like it cooked).
We usually eat it right at or before medium where it's still rosy pink inside. Better to undercook than overcook. You can always continue cooking if it's too rare, but you can't undo what is already cooked.
Let the duck breast rest for a few minutes on a cutting board. Slice thin, slide it over a bowl of rice, and finish with a sprinkle of salt. Speaking of salt...
Salt Is Important
Because there are only two ingredients, the type of salt you use is important. We apply salt twice during this recipe:
- First time: to salt the duck skin before cooking.
- Second time: as a finishing salt right before you eat.
To make things easy, you can use the same type of salt for both the first and second salting. Use Hawaiian Sea Salt. (If you are in a pinch, and don't have Hawaiian Sea Salt, you can use any other kind of sea salt).
My Hawaiian Sea Salt Pick:
We keep a tiny dish of Maldon salt on the dining table. Maldon makes a big difference with many dishes, including this duck. Maldon is my favorite salt and one that we always keep in the pantry.
Crosshatch the skin/fat side before seasoning and searing (step 1 in the recipe below)
Where To Buy Duck Breasts
- D'Artagnan (D'Artagnan is duck breast heaven! They have four types of duck breasts: Moulard Magret, Muscovy, Pekin, and Rohan. We usually use the Moulard Magret and/or Rohan). Note: D'Artagnan occasionally has online sales. I wait for a sale (sometimes it's free shipping, other times its 20% off), and then load up and store them in the freezer.
In San Francisco:
- Gus's Community Market (they carry Mary's Ducks, about 6-8 ounces each, this is the duck pictured in this post)
- The Fatted Calf
- Olivier's Butchery
P.S. You can sometimes find duck breasts at Whole Foods, but it's a hit or miss. I never see them at Whole Foods in Hawaii, but I have occasionally seen them at Whole Foods in San Francisco and NYC.
Slice and eat with rice!
How To Eat Seared Duck Breast
We always eat it over a big bowl of rice. I prepare the bowl of rice, and slide the sliced duck right over the rice (like in the first photo of this post). The rice soaks up all the duck "juices and drippings" and it is SO wonderful.
Sometimes I saute spinach or kale on the side for some greens. Or to make things even more easy, we'll just slice an avocado and serve that on the side (with a little olive oil and salt on top).
Seared Duck Breast Recipe
I wrote down the recipe in printable format below. Let me know if you have any questions! Cook rice and enjoy ^_^
- 2 duck breasts (6-8 ounces each)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pat the duck breasts dry with a paper towel. Place them skin-side up on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, make a crosshatch pattern (about ¼" space between each cut) going across the entire skin side of the duck breast. Make sure to cut through the fat but don't cut into the meat. Liberally salt that skin side.
- Place the duck breasts, skin-side down on a cold pan. Turn the heat to low and let the duck breasts cook low and slow. The fat will slowly render out and make the skin golden and crisp.
- Duck fat will pool at the bottom of the pan. To keep this fat from splattering everywhere, you'll need to pour or scoop out the liquid fat every 5 minutes. After 15-20 minutes, most of the fat will be rendered out (about 80%) and and the skin will be a beautiful and crisp, a deep golden shade.
- Turn the heat to medium-high, flip them duck breasts over (so that it's skin-side up). Sear for 45-60 seconds. Turn off the stove and transfer the duck breasts to a cutting board. Let cook for a few minutes. Slice thin, finish with some black pepper and a sprinkle of Maldon salt. Eat over rice. So onolicious ^_^
- I keep a tin can in the freezer for storing animal fat (you don't want to pour the fat in the sink and clog the skin up). To pour duck fat out from the pan, I remove the duck breasts to a cutting board and tip the entire pan (with the fat in the pan) over the tin can. Once all the fat is poured out, I put the pan back on the stove and add back the duck breasts, skin-side down.
- Finish this dish with Maldon Salt (if possible). If not, finish with Hawaiian Sea Salt.