Pan seared duck breast can be a little intimidating if you haven't worked with a duck very much. Duck breast has a thicker skin and a much higher fat content than a chicken breast. You can also serve Duck Breast undercooked unlike other poultry. Pan seared duck breast is cooked using a completely different method than chicken but the finished product is worth the extra effort.
How to Sear Duck Breast.
To Sear duck breast you need to start long before you place the duck breast in the pan and cook it. To render the fat in the skin it's important to score the skin with a sharp paring knife. The goal is to not cut all the way through the skin but to open the skin so the fat can render out easier. After the Skin is scored lightly season with kosher salt and return to the fridge skin side up, uncovered to dry out overnight or at least for 3-4 hours.
When you're ready to cook remove the duck breast from the fridge and pat dry with a paper towel. You don't need to season with anything other than salt. Duck has a rich flavor that is best kept simple. Plus with the sauce drizzled on top flavor won't be an issue we promise.
When pan searing duck breasts I use the 80-20 rule. 80% of the cooking will be don on the skin side and only 20% on the meat side. The goal is to slowly render out as much fat as possible. Take your time and render until the skin is crispy and golden. Then you can flip the duck breast and baste with its natural fats for the last 20%
What kind of pan to use when searing Duck Breast
Whenever I'm Searing over high heat I prefer to use carbon steel pans. They heat up much faster than traditional cast iron pans but still have that great searing ability. I don't recommend searing using non-stick because they are not suited to higher temperature cooking.
What temperature Should I serve Duck Breast?
As I mentioned earlier duck is one of the few members of the poultry family that doesn't need to be cooked to 165 Degrees F. I prefer my duck sered right around Medium at 135 degrees F. I pull the duck at about 130 degrees and let the carryover cooking finish the duck breast. If you're not ready for medium duck breast, maybe start with medium well around 145-150 degrees F. The meat will still be juicy but the texture will be a little more firm.
Searing Duck Breast Step By Step
Step 1: Score the duck breast and lightly season with kosher salt. Return Duck breast to the fridge skin side up, uncovered to rest overnight or at least 3-4 hours.
Step 2: remove duck breast from the fridge and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the duck breast skin side down in a cold carbon steel or cast iron pan. Place the pan over medium low heat and dont touch for about 8-10 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy.
Step 3: flip the duck breast skin side up in the pan and tilt the pan toward you so the rendered fat pools at the bottom of the pan. Using a spoon carefully bast the fat over the duck skin. It will sizzle and foam… that's a good thing.
Step 4: Once the Duck Breast has Reached an internal temp[erature of about 130 degrees F. Remove from the pan and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the duck thinly and serve.
Don't throw away that Duck Fat!!!!
After you finish cooking your duck breasts are finished cooking don't throw away that liquid gold leftover in the pan. Pour that rendered duck fat into a small heat safe jar and save it for cooking Eggs, potatoes or roasted veggies. The flavor is absolutely amazing!!
Preparing Bacon Balsamic Fig Sauce
This is a quick and easy sauce that I have served with chicken and I thought it would be great with these seared duck breasts. The cured bacon bacon saltiness is balanced by the sweetness of the fig to give the sauce an outstanding flavor. Balsamic vinegar brings a subtle tang to the sauces as well as deep mahogany color. To cheat a little I use a store bought bbq sauce to act as a base with sweet, spicy and tomato flavors.
4 slices Bacon
¼ cup finely diced onion
2 tbsp Chopped Dried Figs
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup Chicken Stock
½ cup BBQ Sauce
In a saucepan saute bacon until crispy and then remove from the pan to dry on a paper towel. Add diced onions to the rendered bacon fat and saute until caramelized and soft. Next add chopped figs, balsamic vinegar and chicken stock. Simmer over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes then add bbq sauce. Simmer on low for 5-10 minutes.