Duck breast is a very succulent and tender part of the duck and when it is cooked correctly, you won’t find many meats that offer this substantial exquisite taste. However when it comes to cooking duck breast it’s also all about how you prepare the breast, because both the cooking and preparation stages entwine together for that final tasty end result.
Of course, it all depends on how you want your duck cooking, whether you can hack rare duck, medium or whether you want it well-done. On the whole though the preparation takes 10 minutes and cooking a duck to well-done usually takes just under 20 minutes.
Firstly like always you are going to need to whack that oven up to around 220C in order to get it preheated to a level that is hot enough to introduce the duck breast to. By reheating the oven you are circulating the heat around the oven, so that it’s at its maximum temperature.
While the oven heats up we can start the preparation stage…
You should have sitting in front of you a couple of quality duck breasts, the first thing you need to do is remove them from any packaging and then using some kitchen towel or paper you need to pat any excess moistures of the breast. This will help the skin become crispy and you will only benefit from doing this step (that most people tend to forget about).
Once you have patted down the skin of the two duck breasts (or more if you are catering for a larger party), you need to take a sharp knife and then start scoring the skin. Usually scoring in diagonal markings down the length of the duck breast is the preferred method by many professional and amateur chefs.
Finally in the preparation stage you will want to season your duck breasts, a simple combination of salt and pepper will work well here, making sure that you divide the seasoning evenly across te duck breast and into those score markings.
Once you have completed this step we can move onto actually cooking the two duck breasts.
There is no need to heat up a frying pan or add oil with this method; you just want to place your duck breasts skin side down into a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Leave them in there for around 7 minutes when they should have adopted a nice golden brown colour. Switch the duck breasts to the other side and cook for about 30 seconds just to seal it in.
You can now turn off the heat and remove the duck breasts from the frying pan, ready to add them to the oven part of the cooking process.
A rack in a roasting tin is probably the best way to cook duck breasts, just so that the breasts are lying a few inches above the bottom of the tin away from the dripping fat. It also helps the underside cook much better if you leave them on a rack.
Put the two duck breasts skin side up this time, on the roasting rack. Remember your oven will be nicely heated now so it’s up to you to decide on how you want your duck cooking. If you want it well done then you are going to need to leave it in the oven for a good 18-20 minutes, however if you want it rare then 10 minutes should suffice.
If you are looking for a medium level of cooking then place the time somewhere in the middle at about 15 minutes.
The final part of cooking is to just let the duck breasts rest on the side of your kitchen counter for a further 10 minutes, all that this does is allows the juices to disperse inside the breast which will help keep the duck breasts tender but also moist to the pallet. What you don’t want is a dried out piece of meat that has no tenderness.
Once the duck breasts have been resting for 10 minutes you can now either cut them up for your guests or serve them as a whole breast, whatever you are looking to do is your choice at this stage.
Duck breast can be shredded up and used as part of a simple salad, and because orange seems to have the perfect complimenting touch to any duck dishes you should think about creating an Chinese inspired soft duck salad with radish, chicory and sweet orange.
The other alternative is to create a warmer dish such as a duck, potato and bacon main meal which brings together infusing flavours and warm winter tastes, perfect for those late winter nights when you want something healthy but quick to cook.