Sauteed Duck Breasts with Cherry Sauce

I didn’t realize this until just now, but sauteed duck breasts with cherry sauce would be the perfect Valentines Day dinner, right?? I got this recipe from one of my new books and you’ll find the review below. But first, I want to discuss the food. I did change the recipe slightly, so if you buy the cookbook you’ll see a slightly different recipe. What I love about this meal is that it sounds/looks/tastes very gourmet and is extremely easy to prepare. The cherry sauce is very mild, which I love. If it was loaded with cherry flavor then no one in my house would touch it. Fruit with a savory dish is usually a giant turn off around here. The sauce is sweet with a bite from the vinegar, and a slight hint of cherry. The duck is cooked perfectly with a crispy yummy skin. Just remember that duck should be cooked medium-rare to medium but no more or it will be tough.

As promised, here is my book review on Meat by James Peterson. I’m going to keep this short and to the point…. hopefully. 🙂

First, if you’re a beginner to all things meat, then this would be a great place to start. If you’re already advanced, skip this book. It is a quick read because he doesn’t provide a massive amount of details on each type of meat. For example, he explains the different types of duck, compare/contrast, how to cook them, and then a few recipes to get you started.

What I love the most about this book is that if you’re a germaphobe (and I am) and you fear raw meat (and I do), this will help put your mind at ease. He undercooks his meat too much for my taste (he cooks chicken to an internal temp of about 145F), but he explains why he does this, which I find helpful. He explains that the bacteria on chicken is usually only on the outside and dies at about 137F. So, if the middle of the chicken is undercooked you probably won’t get food poisoning as long as the outside is cooked. Of course, he’s not saying undercook your chicken, obviously you need to cook it through and use a thermometer. Anyway, the point is, it’s not THAT easy to get food poisoning from meat that is undercooked. But IT IS EASY to get food poisoning from raw meat, before it’s cooked, and from cross-contamination. This really puts my mind at ease and I’m able to work with meat a little more comfortably. Honestly, that was the highlight of the book for me. BUT keep in mind that he only recommends farm fresh everything, so his chances of food poisoning are reduced and that’s partly why he can get away with lower cooking temps, in my opinion. Like I said though, I’m still going to cook my chicken longer. Now, for the meat that you can undercook (such as duck), I do agree with his cooking temps/times. The duck was spot on.

As for the recipes, well, I wouldn’t buy the book for the recipes alone. They are a great starting point though, but the reason to buy this book is to expand your meat knowledge.

Sauteed Duck Breasts with Cherry Sauce
Serving Size = 2
Adapted From: Meat: A Kitchen Education by James Peterson, 2010, p. 72

  • 2 boneless Moulard duck breasts, about 1 lb each (or 4 Pekin or Muscovy duck breasts)
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons meat glaze (optional, it’s basically broth that’s been gently simmer until it reduces and becomes thick)
  • 1/2 lb cherries, pitted and halved
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 3 slices
  1. Using a sharp knife with a thin blade, score the skin on the breast about 20 times in one direction, then turn the breast 90 degrees to the first cuts and cut it 20 more times (hold the knife at a slight angle). Only cut the skin, do not cut through to the meat. Salt and pepper the duck breasts.
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and let it warm up completely. Use a pan just big enough for the duck. Saute for 20 minutes, until the skin starts to turn golden brown. It will get pretty dark, but if it does too fast then turn the heat down a bit. If you use Pekin or Muscovy, then cook 12 minutes. Once done, flip and cook another 3 minutes (or 2 minutes for Pekin or Muscovy). When done, set aside and keep warm.
  3. Pour off the fat and return the pan to medium heat. Add the sugar. Once it dissolves and turns golden, add the vinegar and deglaze the pan (scrape up any bits). Make sure at least 2 tablespoons of vinegar remain, if not then add more. Add the broth and stir in the glaze. Add the cherries, bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove the cherries and set aside. Simmer the sauce over high heat (or medium high, which is what I used) for about 5 minutes, or until a light syrupy consistency develops.
  5. Add the cherries back and stir. Whisk in the butter, but do not boil. Season with salt/pepper to taste.
  6. Slice and serve (cut Moulard crosswise and Pekin/Muscovy on an angle).