Duck is one of my favorite proteins. When done perfectly that fat is rendered and creates the most beautiful crunchy crust which is a perfect contrast to the rich yet sweet duck. But done poorly and you can have a chewy fatty mess that you are more than likely to toss out. So I've created a list of helpful tips on achieving the most perfect seared duck breast.
Here are my tips when cooking duck:
- Use a Cast Iron Skillet- You may notice that I use my cast iron skillet a lot, and you should too! That duck fat you lay down on it will help season your pan! Plus they keep heat so well.
- Add a tiny bit of oil to the pan - I'm talking about maybe 1 tablespoon, just to help get that duck fat rendering. Don't use too much or else you won't render the fat, and you will be left with fat on your breast and no crunchy crust.
- Score the Skin and Fat- take a knife and gently score the skin and fat on the duck breast. Be careful though, don't cut all the way down to the meat.
- Make sure your pan is Hot- Always make sure you pan is nice and hot when you place those breasts down. If you pan is not hot enough you won't get the sear and color you are looking for.
- Always place the Breast Skin side Down- when ever you sear anything always sear with the presentation side down first!
- Don't Touch- Its tempting but try not to move or touch the breast while its cooking, you don't want to disturb that beautiful Maillard Reaction thats taking place.
- Cook to 122F then take it off the heat- Cook the duck breast to an internal temperature of 122F for rare and let it carry over cook to 125F. If you prefer more well done cook to 130F.
Pan Seared Duck Breast with Farro Herb Risotto
- 2-4 Duck Breast, skin on
- Season with Salt & Pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice
In a cast iron skillet, add about 1 TBS of vegetable oil to the pan, heat the pan on high to medium heat. Score the skin and fat of the duck breasts and season with salt, pepper and Chinese 5 Spice. Once the pan is nice and hot add the duck breast to the pan skin side down. Once the skin is crispy and the fat is rendered, flip to other side to finish cooking if needed. Cook to desired doneness.
Farro Herb Risotto:
- 1 Cup Farro
- 6 Cups Duck Stock (or Chicken Stock)
- 4 TBS Butter
- 2 Shallots
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 Cup White Wine, anything dry
- 2 TBS Dill, chopped
- 2 TBS Basil, chopped
- 1 TBS Tarragon, chopped
- 1 tsp Thyme, chopped
- 4 TBS Parsley, chopped
- 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
To make the farro risotto, soak the farro in enough water to cover it and soak for 30 minutes. Then drain.
In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter and add the shallots and season with the salt and pepper. Sauté till the shallots are clear. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and scrape any bits off with a wooden spoon. Cook till almost all of the wine has evaporated. Then add the farro and 1/2 c chicken stock. Continue to cook and stir the farro and stock till that 1/2 cup has been soaked up by the farro. Continue adding the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is nice and creamy and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Once the farro is cooked take it off the heat and add all the chopped herbs and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine everything and let the parmesan melt into the farro.
To serve, top a bowl of the risotto with the seared duck breast slices.