Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Roasted Grapes



Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Roasted Grapes

Yield: 2  |  Total time: 30 min
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I had envisioned the first few January posts to be about all those resolutions and aspirations we find ourselves listing at the beginning of a new year, but I wanted to follow up on some recipes I promised from a wine dinner I hosted for a friend of mine early January. There's plenty of time for healthful recipes and diet food, which I wrote about in this week's column for

Back to duck and grapes.  There really isn't much to this recipe; it's more about technique than a whole mess of ingredients.  You'll need some good salt and fresh cracked pepper, the duck breast, and a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom pan.  I like to add some sort of tangy fruit--raspberry, currant, or cherry--to cut some of the fattiness.  If you have potatoes, throw them into the pan once the duck fat has rendered.  These roasted grapes add a nice touch.  I had never thought to roast grapes before until I came across a recipe on; roasted grapes are amazing, little bursts of sugar that contrast nicely with the savory duck.  I love them so much, I've been roasting them to serve on salad, with cheese or as a snack.  Serve the duck with some lemony greens, like arugula or escarole on the side.

Keep in mind that Moulard ducks are raised mostly for their liver (foie gras) and the breast; if cooked any more than rare (or medium-rare), the meat will be tough and stringy.  If you can't find duck magret in your local market, is a great resource for all things duck (and more.)  Every so often, they have great sales and sometimes free shipping.


  • 1 (8-ounce) Moulard duck magret (breast)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grapes
  • Olive oil
  • Potatoes, for serving
  • If making a quick sauce, have on hand some red wine, chopped shallot, red wine or balsamic vinegar, and fruit jam, such as red currant, raspberry or fresh raspberries


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Using scissors, snip grapes into small clusters and place them, without touching, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Roast grapes for about 15 minutes or until just starting to blister; you'll see the juices starting to run out onto the parchment.  Let cool.  Grapes can be roasted up to a few hours and kept cool or at room temperature until ready to serve.  Rewarm, if desired.
  2. Pat dry the duck breast.  Using a sharp knife, score the fat; you want cut a little bit into the meat but not too deep.  Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.


3. Place a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Place duck breast, fat side down into the skillet almost immediately; you don't want add it to the pan when it's too hot because you want the fat to slowly render.  Once the pan is hot, let duck cook about 7 minutes (reduce heat a little if starting to burn). (If there's room in the pan, throw in a few potatoes and let cook with the duck.)   Turn over and let cook another minute or so for rare to medium-rare (140°) or until desired degree of doneness.  NOTE: It's best to cook this medium-rare or the duck can be tough if overcooked.  Remove from pan, tent with foil and let rest 20 to 30 minutes.

For a quick sauce: Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the duck fat.  While pan is hot, add a splash of red wine, some chopped shallot, red currant or raspberry jam or fresh raspberries, and a dash of red wine or Balsamic vinegar.  Let reduce; set aside and keep warm.

4. After duck has rested, slice and garnish with the sauce, potatoes, if serving, and roasted grapes.


Date Published: January 17, 2014

All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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