We don't make duck very often. It's a luxury item, reserved for special occasions. We only buy it when it's on sale at D'Artagnan. It's still pricey, but it's the best quality we've found. So when we do go ducky, we do it up right. This spice-coated duck breast with a tangy pomegranate sauce is our favorite duck recipe!
It's Just Ducky!
This duck is coated with savory spices, and served with a tangy pomegranate sauce. It's garnished with pomegranate seeds, which are called "arils". They give little bursts of sweetness and crunch that complement the savory duck and sauce.
Fun fact: "Pomegranate comes from the old French "pome", meaning "apple", and "granatum", which is Latin for "having many seeds". So it means "an apple with many seeds". Sounds right to me!
Duck breast can be tricky to cook. It should ideally be served medium well, and it's terribly easy to have it come out overdone. (Or "hammered" as they say on the cooking shows.) The safest way is to use a meat thermometer to test it. The FDA recommends cooking to at least 160°F, and preferably to 170°F. If you take the duck out of the oven at 155°F it should rise to 160°F during resting.
We prefer our duck a little pinker, so we cook it to 145°F. There is some risk at that temperature, so use your own best judgement.
Ingredients You'll Need
For the Sauce
- pomegranate juice
- chicken broth
- Fresno or Serrano chile
- chipotle chile in adobo sauce
- balsamic vinegar
- ground cumin
- Sichuan pepper
- salt and pepper
For the Duck
- ducks breasts
- ground coriander
- ground ginger
- kosher salt
- white pepper
- pomegranate seeds
Frequently Asked Questions
Not another weird spice! What is Sichuan pepper?
Yes, another spice! Remember, our mission is to open up the world of flavors to you!
Sichuan pepper is a spice produced by some varieties of the prickly ash shrub, which is an evergreen plant that's in the citrus family. So it's not really related to black pepper or chile peppers.
Its heat level is slightly higher than black pepper, but it also has a slight numbing or tingling effect on the tongue, which some cooks believe makes it enhance other flavors and makes it easier to handle the heat of other spices.
Sichuan pepper is available online, but if you don't have any you can substitute black pepper.
Make This Spicy Duck
Make the Sauce
The first thing you're going to do is make a simple syrup. That's just sugar dissolved in water and boiled until it's reduced to a syrup. Simple, right? Here's the sugar dissolved in the water.
Bring it to a boil and let it bubble! But don't turn your back on the sauce to do something else, it can turn to a burned mess in seconds!
This looks about right, so take it off the heat for a while.
Let it sit for a minute or two. That pan is going to be hot, and you're going to pour liquids into it. You don't want them to steam up and set your smoke detector off! (Yes, this did happen to us.)
Add the pomegranate juice, chicken broth, and Fresno or Serrano chile.
Return the pan to the heat and boil it until the sauce is reduced by half and just coats a spoon.
Pour the sauce into a blender, add the chipotle pepper, and blend until it's smooth.
Kitchen tip: Chipotle peppers (which are smoked jalapeno peppers) in adobo come in a can packed with peppers and enough sauce to fill the can. If you're making a recipe that calls for one chipotle pepper and a teaspoon of adobo sauce, you're going to be left with a lot of peppers and not much sauce in the can.
What we've done in the past is toss a couple of cans of chipotles and adobo into a blender and puree them all at once, then put it in the fridge in an airtight container.
I use adobo sauce a lot, so now I make it from scratch. (I will post that recipe at some point!)
Transfer the sauce to a bowl and mix in the vinegar, cumin, and Sichuan pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside until the duck is cooked.
Make the Duck
Trim any excess fat and skin from the edges of the breasts. They should look like this. Up top are the pomegranate seeds and spices: salt, coriander, ginger, and white pepper.
Score the skins to make a diamond pattern. Just cut partway into the skin, try not to cut into the flesh.
Mix the salt, coriander, ginger, and pepper. Rub the spice mixture into both sides of the duck. The easiest way to do this is to spread the spice mixture onto a cutting board, then press the breast into it, flip, and press again.
Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck to the skillet, skin side down, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the skin is crisp and deep brown. Use your finger to poke the breast to see how done it is. It should give a little, but not feel soft.
Kitchen Tip: Being able to tell the "doneness" of meat is a valuable cooking skill! With enough practice you should be able to tell rare from medium rare and up to well done (please don't cook quality meat to well done!) by pressing on it with your finger. Over time you'll learn how to tell when meat is "perfectly done" for you!
Turn the duck over and cook for 1 minute.
Pour off the fat and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast the duck until a meat thermometer reads 155°F for medium well, or 145°F for medium rare.
Take the duck out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Slice crosswise at a slight angle.
Serve with the pomegranate sauce, pomegranate seeds, and your favorite sides.
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📖 Recipe Card
Roast Duck Breasts with Spicy Pomegranate Sauce
Special Equipment Needed
- Large saucepan
- Large oven-safe skillet
- Meat thermometer
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup pomegranate juice
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 Fresno or Serrano chile seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chiles in adobo
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon Sichuan pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Duck
- 2 (6-ounce) duck breast halves boneless
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- Fresh pomegranate seeds for serving
For the Sauce
- Stir the sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is a deep amber color.1 tablespoon sugar, ½ cup water
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two. Add the pomegranate juice, chicken broth, and Fresno chile. Return the pan to the heat and boil for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by half and just coats a spoon.½ cup pomegranate juice, ½ cup chicken broth, 1 Fresno or Serrano chile
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. Add the sauce and chipotle chiles to a blender and puree until smooth.1 teaspoon chipotle chiles in adobo
- Transfer the sauce to a bowl. Whisk in the vinegar, cumin, and Sichuan pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin, ⅛ teaspoon Sichuan pepper, Salt and pepper
For the Duck
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Trim any excess fat and skin from the edges of the duck breasts. Score the skin with 5 or more cuts in one direction, then repeat in opposite direction, making a diamond pattern. Be careful to cut only the skin, don't cut into the flesh!2 (6-ounce) duck breast halves
- Mix the salt, coriander, ginger, and pepper. Rub the spice mixture into both sides of the duck.1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon white pepper
- Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck to the skillet, skin side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the skin is crisp and deep brown.
- Turn the duck over and cook for 1 minute. Pour off the fat and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast the duck until a meat thermometer reads 155°F for medium well, or 145°F for medium rare
- Transfer the duck to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice each breast crosswise on a slight diagonal.
- Arrange the slices on plates, spoon on some sauce, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.Fresh pomegranate seeds
THIS RECIPE IS FROM
The Spice of Your Life - https://thespiceofyourlife.com