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how to cook a duck breast

Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Sauce (Make Ahead)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 40 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Total Time: 65 Minutes
  • Yield: 2 Servings 1x
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Saute and Oven
  • Cuisine: American


Seared Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Sauce can be made ahead and are a great way to celebrate any event. You’d never guess how easy they are to prepare.



2 1/2 T sugar

1/4 c water

1 c Pomegranate juice (such as POM)

1 c low salt chicken broth

2 large dried California chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn it 1″ pieces (I find these in the Mexican section)

3/4 t adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (which I always have in my fridge)

3/4 t balsamic vinegar

Coarse salt

2 Duck Breasts

Season With: Coarse Salt, Fresh Black Pepper, Ground coriander

Fresh Pomegranate Seeds for garnish


To Prepare Sauce: (This is enough sauce for 4 breasts)

Stir sugar and water in small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until syrup is amber colored. (Since there is so little liquid, I had to tilt the pot, while it turned color.) Swirl occasionally for about 8 minutes watching carefully so it doesn’t burn.

Add juice slowly. This will sputter A LOT! Add chicken broth and chilies. Boil until sauce is reduced to about 3/4 c, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Pour into a large measuring cup and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Whisk in adobo sauce and vinegar. Season generously with coarse salt. (This sauce can be made a week ahead and reheated in the microwave on low power or rewarmed on the stove.)

Prepare duck: See notes below.

When duck is ready to serve thinly slice on the diagonal. Arrange slices on plate. Sauce can either be spooned on top or placed on the plate with the duck breasts on top.


How to Cook a Duck Breast:

  1. First thaw the duck breasts. Remove from package and pat dry.
  2. Using a very sharp knife or a razor blade, score skin on the diagonal in 1/4″ intervals without cutting into breast meat. Now rotate breast and score again, forming a crisscross pattern. Season with preferred seasonings. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. I used my cast iron skillet and placed duck breasts, skin down into the cold skillet and then heated the skillet to medium low. After 8-12 minutes the fat should be rendered and the skin should be crisp and golden brown. Try not to lift breast until you are pretty sure it is ready to turn.
  4. Turn breast over and cook 1-2 minutes. Pour out duck fat from skillet and save for future use. This is so good! (At this point, duck can be refrigerated and finished at a later time. Wrap and store. Duck breast will keep 3 days in the refrigerator.)
  5. If finishing cooking immediately: Place skillet with duck in a preheated 350 degree oven and cook for 5-6 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Remove from oven and place n cutting board. Let rest for 4-5 minutes before slicing. Temperature should reach 165 degrees.
  6. If finishing later:  Preheat oven to 400 and cook or grill 6-8 minutes, checking internal temperature as in step #5.