Seared Duck Breast with Cherry-Cranberry Pinot Noir Sauce

By: Marge Perry & David Bonom

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Cuisine: French
  • Course: Dinner



  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 magret duck breasts, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Pinot Noir wine
  • 1/2 cup veal or duck demi-glace
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter



  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil until the mixture turns golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully add the vinegar, cherries, and cranberries swirling the pan until the caramel dissolves.
  3. With a sharp knife, score the skin of each duck breast in a crosshatch pattern, taking care to not cut into the flesh. Season the duck with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
  4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium; add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook until browned, 4-5 minutes. Turn the breasts over and cook 1 minute longer; transfer to a nonstick baking sheet. Set the baking sheet in the center of the oven and roast duck until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 130°F-135°F for medium rare. Remove from the oven, cover pan loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes.
  5. While the duck is in the oven, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet and heat over medium. Add the shallots and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the pinot noir and increase heat to medium-high. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the demi-glace and return to a boil. Continue boiling until the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve set over the saucepan with the vinegar mixture, pressing hard on the solids with a spoon or spatula; discard solids. Stir in the vinegar-cherry mixture and cook 1 minute. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. To serve, slice duck breasts thinly across the grain, fan over 4 plates and spoon warm sauce over.