Magret de Canard a la Sauce Frambroise / Duck Breast with Raspberry Sauce


Share this sexy dish with someone special. One duck breast is the perfect amount for two when paired with an appetizer and followed by salad and dessert.

For such a simple recipe and only a handful of ingredients, it’s an unbelievably rich and delicious dish. Consider the menu that follows for a Valentine’s Day dinner you will never forget.

I use frozen raspberries not only because fresh ones are out of season in February, but also because they exude a rich and flavorful juice as they thaw. (Allow them to come to room temperature in a dish to catch the juices.)

If you make this recipe in the summer, you can use fresh berries, but you’ll have to mash them to release their juices. Save some whole berries to garnish the finished dish.

1 duck breast, about a pound, give or take a few ounces
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Season the flesh side of the duck breast generously with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Place it in a cold, dry skillet, skin-side down, and warm it over low heat. Allow the fat to render slowly, pouring it off occasionally into a clean glass jar through a fine-mesh strainer. The fat you pour off should be clear and slightly yellow, not brown. If the liquefied fat becomes brown, lower the heat.

This will take some time, about 30 minutes, but it is an essential step in getting the skin perfectly crisp and reducing the fat to a soft and creamy layer. It also gives you time to prepare the rest of the meal.

Stir together the thawed raspberries with their juices, the balsamic vinegar and a small pinch each of sea salt and ground peppercorn. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set aside.

After approximately 30 minutes, the skin should be crisp and brown and you should have collected a fair amount of fat, a third of a cup or more. Allow the fat to cool, then cover and keep it in the fridge for future use. (Because duck fat is stable at high temperatures, it is a good choice for sautéing over high heat.)

Increase the heat to medium. Once the skillet is very hot, turn the duck breast over and sear the flesh side for approximately five minutes. If it smells like it is getting too hot, reduce the heat to medium-low.

Do not overcook the duck breast. When it feels firm yet slightly tender in the center (like the tip of your nose) and the flesh side is browned, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a plate, skin-side up. Cover it to keep it warm, allowing a small space for steam to escape so the skin doesn’t become soggy.

Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then thinly slice the duck breast into 8 or 10 pieces. Properly cooked, the meat should be tender and still pink in the middle.

Serve it as soon as you slice it, with the raspberry balsamic sauce. Don’t drown the meat in sauce; use it sparingly to enhance the flavor of the duck.

You’ll have more sauce than you’ll need. Use what is leftover to make a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette: Whisk in some olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste, then drizzle it over salad greens.

Five-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner:

Carrot Ginger Soup
See 1/23/10 post. Make this ahead.

Duck Breast with Raspberry Sauce

Salad of Mixed Greens with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Whisk together 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch each of sea salt and ground peppercorn. Once combined, drizzle in 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Toss it with arugula, torn lettuce leaves, thinly sliced red onion and carrot shavings (use a vegetable peeler).

Cheese plate
Select a variety of tastes and textures. Consider brie, goat cheese, blue cheese and cubes of a firm aged variety, like a mild and nutty Swiss or Elemental. It never hurts to add some grapes to the fruit plate. Green grapes are fine but red ones are especially festive on Valentine’s Day.

Dark Chocolate Fondue
See 2/7/10 post.