Let me start by saying, we don't cook enough duck breasts at home. I love duck but I have always found it difficult to cook just right and then there is all the fat that is rendered from cooking it.
For that reason, I tend to fill my desire for duck when dining out but I am learning this doesn't have to be the case. If I want to enjoy duck at home, I can purchase duck breasts and use them in various ways in my cooking.
This post is about buying and cooking duck breasts. If you enjoy duck as much as I do, I hope you get something useful from it. Please let me know in the comments section below.
What Is the Most Popular Duck to Cook?
The most popular duck to cook is the domestic Pekin duck, also known as Long Island duckling. It is a breed of domesticated duck used primarily for egg and meat production.
It is the duck breed most commonly found in the United States and is considered the industry standard for duck meat. Pekin ducks are known for their mild flavor and tender meat, making them a popular choice for a variety of dishes such as Peking duck, roast duck, and confit.
What To Look For When Buying Duck Breasts?
When buying duck breasts, there are a few things to look for to ensure that you are getting high-quality meat:
- Color: The skin of the duck breast should be a rich, deep red color, and the meat should be pink and moist. Avoid those that have a pale or grayish color, as this may indicate that the meat is old or has been frozen for too long.
- Fat content: They should have a moderate amount of fat, which will help to keep the meat moist and flavorful during cooking. Look for duck breasts that have a layer of white fat on the skin, which will melt and baste the meat as it cooks.
- Size: Duck breasts come in different sizes, so make sure to choose the size that is appropriate for your recipe or serving size.
- Smell: They should not have any off odors. They should smell fresh and clean.
- Firmness: The flesh should be firm to the touch and not have any discoloration or bruises.
- Sustainability: Look for duck breasts that are labeled as sustainably raised, which means that the ducks are raised in an environmentally friendly manner, with good welfare standards and without the use of antibiotics.
- Organic: If you are looking for an organic option, you can look for duck breasts that are labeled as organic. This means that the ducks were raised without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
What Is the Best Way to Cook A Duck Breast?
Pan Seared Duck Breasts
- Take the duck breasts out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Pat the duck breasts dry with a paper towel, and then season them generously with salt and pepper (and any herbs or spices you desire).
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (such as cast iron) over medium-high heat.
- Place the duck breasts, skin-side down, in the skillet. Use a spoon to press down on the breasts so that the skin makes good contact with the skillet.
- Cook the duck breasts for 4-5 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and crisp.
- Flip the breasts over and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes for medium-rare or until the desired doneness.
- Remove the duck breasts from the skillet and let them rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
What Does Cooked Duck Breast Taste Like?
Cooked duck breast has a rich, slightly gamey flavor that is often compared to beef. Its flavor is stronger than that of chicken but milder than that of goose.
The meat is also leaner than chicken, but has a higher fat content than most other poultry, which gives it a richer taste and a more tender texture. The fat also helps to keep the meat moist during cooking, so even if it's cooked a little longer it will still be juicy.
The crispy skin adds a nice contrast in texture and provides an added depth of flavor. When cooked properly, duck breast should have a slightly pink center, which adds a nice balance to the rich, meaty taste of the duck.
There are a variety of sources for buying duck breasts, including:
- Local farmers' markets: Many local farmers' markets sell duck breasts that are raised in the area. This allows you to buy fresh, locally-sourced meat and also to ask questions to the farmers about the raising process.
- Specialty butcher shops: Specialty butcher shops often carry a selection of duck breasts, including breeds such as Pekin, Muscovy, and Moulard. They are usually knowledgeable about different types of duck and can give you advice on cooking methods and preparation.
- Online retailers: Online retailers such as D'Artagnan, Maple Leaf Farms, and Hudson Valley Foie Gras sell a wide range of duck products, including duck breasts. These retailers often offer a variety of options, such as organic, sustainable and heritage breeds, and can also provide detailed information about the raising process.
- Supermarkets: Some supermarkets carry duck breasts, often in the frozen section. It's important to check the label and the information on the packaging to ensure that the ducks were raised in a sustainable and humane manner
- Local duck farmers: It is also possible to buy them directly from local duck farmers. This allows you to ask questions about the raising process and to ensure that the ducks were raised in a humane and sustainable manner.
- Restaurants: Many restaurants source their ingredients from reputable suppliers and offer duck breasts on their menu, you can ask the restaurant where they source their duck breasts.
It's important to note that for all options, you should look for ducks that have been raised in a sustainable, humane, and organic manner. This will help ensure that you are getting high-quality meat that is good for you and the environment.
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a small saucepan, combine the pomegranate juice, sugar, red wine vinegar, cornstarch, salt and pepper.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes, or until the glaze has thickened.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the glaze cool to room temperature.
- The glaze can be used immediately, or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- You can use this glaze as a finishing sauce for your duck or any other poultry or meat, or as a dip for your appetizers. It can also be used as a salad dressing or a marinade.