Honey Ginger Duck Breast

Hubby fashioned this plate. As evidenced by the swoosh of a sauce, he has been watching too much Iron Chef.

For Thanksgiving, we decided to break away from the traditional turkey and got duck instead. Yes, we know that duck is fatty, but hey, fat is where the flavor comes from. Not to mention, duck fat is a healthy alternative to butter according to the Science of Cooking website. (Click the link if you want to read more about the benefits of duck fat).

No, the cooking part was not hard. It was the butchering of the bird that was the real ordeal. It took 2 people (me and my husband) to manhandle cut the 7 pound duck. And oh, the horror of cleaning up! All the cutlery and dishes that we used just to cook two duck breasts. But it was Thanksgiving, and compared to our turkey last year, this was by far a cinch!

The duck breasts were delicious! It was perfectly cooked, and the sauce went well with it. And in case you were wondering what happened to the other parts of the bird, it will be in my future posts. :-)

This recipe is from, tweaked to suit our finicky taste. Haha.

What you need:
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 1/8 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon tomato sauce
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the duck breast, about 1/4 inch per cut. Rub generously with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper.

Hello, Mr. Duck.
Place a cast-iron skillet (or any oven-proof skillet) over medium-high heat. Put the duck (skin side down) and pan-fry for about 5 minutes. No need to add oil - the grease from your (well-maintained) skillet would suffice, plus the fat that the duck will render. Turn the breasts and cook the other side for about 2 minutes.

Heating the cast iron skillet. This baby is HEAVY!
Drain the excess fat, then place the skillet in the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 15-18 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat is 165°F. Make sure to drain off the oil every 5 minutes, so the duck isn't cooking in its own fat (we're roasting it, not making confit! haha). Save about 2 teaspoons of the rendered fat to be used in the sauce. After cooking, take the skillet out of the oven and remove the duck from the skillet. Especially if you are using cast iron, it holds a lot of heat and your meat will continue cooking if you do not remove it promptly.

It's getting hot in here...
Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, honey, rice wine, grated ginger, tomato sauce, dash of red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of duck fat, and lime juice. Whisk over medium-high heat. Add the dissolved cornstarch. Bring to a boil, then lower down the heat to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens, whisking occasionally. 

To serve, slice the duck breasts and pour the sauce on top of it. Enjoy!

Perfectly cooked. Yummy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Don't like medium rare? Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the duck hits 180°F.
2. Using lemon instead of lime would give the sauce a hint of lemony sweetness. 
3. Substitute wildflower honey with regular clover honey. I used wildflower because it gives a deep, sweet taste.
4. Draining the fat off the skillet is crucial - the duck skin will not crisp up if you neglect doing it.
5. As usual, safety comes first. ALWAYS wash your hands (and other materials) with warm soapy water when working with poultry. We don't like cross contamination!
6. To clean your cast iron skillet (which is another ordeal), click here.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

"They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness." -Psalm 145:7


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