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Seared Duck Breasts with Raspberry-Balsamic Sauce

Serves 4

I love duck. I finally found a good source for breasts so I will be making them more often for entertaining and special occasions. This duck breast recipe is quick and relatively easy, especially if you use a bulb baster to remove the fat from the pan as the duck cooks, as described in the notes below. I use Muscovy duck, which is less fatty and meatier than other ducks, but other breeds, such as Long Island or magret can be used.

Ingredients

Pat duck dry with paper towels. Score the skin with a knife in a crisscross pattern, being careful not to penetrate the flesh. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the breasts, skin side down and immediately reduce to medium-low. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the skin is dark brown and most of the fat has rendered, reducing heat if necessary to prevent burning (see notes below). Turn the breasts and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes. Remove to a carving board and let rest for about 5 minutes. (Duck will continue to cook while resting. It is best if cooked no more than medium. Unlike chicken or turkey, duck is safe and tastes best when still slightly pink.)

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Remove all but a thin coating of fat from the skillet. Place over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar and fruit spread. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the herbs and the demi-glace. Stir until bubbly. (If using broth, boil until reduced by about half.) Cut breasts on the diagonal into slices. Place on individual plates and spoon sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Notes: While the duck cooks, the fat will render out into the pan. You must remove it periodically and the easiest way is with a bulb baster. However, you can use a large spoon or simply pour it off, being careful not to let the breasts fall out of the pan. If desired, save the fat for other uses. The first time I made this dish, I used a duck and veal demi-glace that I purchased from the same source as the duck breasts. It is very good and, though pricy, a little goes a long way and extra stores well in the refrigerator or freezer. However, since I do not always have it on hand, I usually use homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, about one-half cup, and let the sauce reduce longer.