Roasted duck breast has been a bit of a hard subject for me. Considering that it has always had a more expensive price point than chicken or pork but less expensive than beef, it always puzzled me to explore it further.
At the bottom of this post you will find a very simple roasted duck breast recipe Jump to Recipe
I have cooked my fair share of organic roasted ducks for a special occasions, but to be honest never actually felt comfortable with it. As Germany has been in a fairly crazy lockdown for the past couple of months, it’s either now or never.
Now, this post about the roasted duck breast is not to refine your culinary skills, but a mere analysis and simplification of the process so that we normal people can explore the duck meat.
Buying just the breast vs the full duck.
On two separate occasions, I bought once just the breast and once a full duck. I was approaching it like any poultry, that maybe it would make more sense to get a full one, keep some parts for stock, and roast the wings, legs, and breast.
The unfortunate truth is that duck legs take ages to cook. You are looking at a 90 minute time in the oven. The breast on the other hand it is usually half or even 1/3 of the time. This huge disbalance makes it so much harder to handle it unless you are cooking them for separate occasions.
The next thing is butchering the whole duck is such a pain. I have seen that even with my fair share of ducks, you have to be very careful as you tend to lose a lot of meat deboning it. Having said that, you can use these bones for soup or a broth of some sort, but that is beyond the point of this post.
If you are e beginner definitely take just the breast. It will make cooking duck meat so much more enjoyable and easier.
How to render the fat?
As you may know (or not), ducks fat is uniquely tasty, so generally speaking you should try to make the most out of it. The fat is also mainly located on the breast area, so when you get the duck breast from the market, do not get discouraged by the fat. We want that.
Rendering the fat means: using heat to remove to transform the white fat into liquid. The best way to render the fat actually is in a pan. After you have prepped the duck breast, and have marinated it fairly simply in salt and pepper and in room temperature. You wil need to score it. If you want to be fancy, do it in a criss cross manner. The point of this is to leave room for the rendered fat to get out.
Here is the important part: Place it skin sice down in a cold pan and place the pan in medium heat. Give the duck a bit of time, till the fat is rendered out. Then give the other side a quick sear and you are ready for the oven at 200 degrees, 10 minutes for mediumish, and 20 for medium well.
How to roast the duck breast
The only technique that I would recommend is pan sear first as described above and then roasting in the oven. It just works and you really can not mess it up.
The oven must be hot at 200 degrees. If you do not have a pan that can go in the oven, then the dish that you will place the duck in, must be hot. Usually I bake some veggies during this time because I am not that fancy to waste electricity.
I tried roasting the duck breast skin side up and skin side down. If your pan or oven dish is not crowded and it has just the duck breast, then skin side down will make the best results, alternatively skin side up.
As you will be exploring the duck meat and most probably you will be getting it in a supermarket, i tend to be suspicious so when it comes to cooking time I do not go for medium unless I am very sure about the freshness of the meat. So if it your first time, do 15-20 min. If you know what you are doing, 10 minutes will producte a perfectly pink roasted duck breast, which is the recommended temperature to actually eat it. Just let the roasted duck breast to sit for a couple of minutes before cutting it.
Sauces and sides
Duck meat needs sweet heavy sauces. For me the simpliest of all these sauces is the orange sauce. This is the juice of two oranges, the zest of one, 2 tablespoons of sugar and you thicken with corn starch.
Think of veggies that you can boil and finnish in duck fat. Or veggies that you can cook with the duck fat. For me some home fries and some carrots fried in duck fat just hit me perfectly! Here is a recipe for home fries and a recipe for best vegetables out there.
Roasted duck breast with orange sauce
- frying pan
- oven dish
- 2 duck breasts
- 2 oranges
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- salt and pepper
- Clean up the duck breasts(especially from the sinews on the meat side. Score the skin but be careful not to pierce the meat
- Marinate it with salt and pepper and let it rest to get to a room temperature
- Turn on the oven at 200 degrees celcius. If you do not have an oven safe pan, then place the oven dish in the oven to heat up as well
- Place the duck breasts skin side down in a cold pan and then on medium heat. We do not need to add oil to the pan as the duck fat will take care of that.
- let it sear in medium heat till the fat is rendered. In a normal sized duck breast, it should take you 10-15 minutes or so.
- Flip it and sear the meat side as well, just a couple of minutes
- Put it in the oven and bake for 10-20 minutes where 10 is pink in the middle and 20 is medium well depending on your preference
- while the duck is cooking, in a pan add the orange juice, the zest and the sugar. Bring everything to simmer and reduce to half
- If you want to add a bit of heat, add some pepper flakes to it
- in a glass, mix the cornstarch with equal parts water. Throw this in the sauce and mix till everything is incorporated.
- Taste the sauce, add salt and pepper to adjust the taste profile
- Now that the duck is ready, let it rest for a couple of minutes before cutting it.
- I would recommend serving it with the sauce on the side