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Video:How to Cook Duck Breasts

with Erica Wides

Learn how to season and prepare perfectly cooked duck breasts for a delicious dinner.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Cook Duck Breasts

Hi. I’m Erica Wides from chefsmartypants.com here for About.com. And, today, I want to talk about what to do with duck breasts. Duck breasts are great because the meat is really dark and really flavorful and tasty. But, it’s actually very low in fat. Now, the duck’s skin, that’s on top, has quite a bit of fat underneath it. But if you know how to properly cook a duck breast. You can actually get rid of almost all of that fat and just be left with a really thin layer of very tasty, crispy, duck skin.

Prep the Duck Breast for Cooking

I’m just going to do a little bit of trimming up, on this duck breast. You want to remember about duck fat is that it’s really flavorful and so a little goes a long way. Once I have that skin trimmed, I’m going to take my knife and score the skin. Which means just make little cuts – not all the way through, about half-way through the skin, in a cross-hatch pattern. And, what this does, is it allows heat to penetrate into the skin and the breast. And it also allows more fat to render out of the skin. Our objective here is to melt out the fat that is underneath the skin, while leaving the skin on, really crispy.

Seasoning the Duck Breasts

Now, once these are done, I want to pat them dry. It’s very important that when you saute a protein, that you start out with a dry protein. If it’s not dry it’ll stick to your pan, it’ll splatter, it won’t brown, it’ll be a disaster. So, get it nice and dry and then we season. I’m using Kosher salt, on both sides. You always want to season from high up – so that you get nice even distribution. And, some freshly ground black pepper.

Tips for Cooking Duck Breasts

Now, when you’re sauteing something like a duck breast, a chicken breast, a fish fillet, anything. You want to make sure that your pan is big enough that you can comfortably fit whatever items it is that you’re cooking and this is a cast iron pan, which I really like for doing this. And, I don’t have to add any fat to this pan when I’m cooking this duck breast cause we’re going to get the fat coming out of the skin, naturally. With these we want to start out on a really low flame. And I’m putting these in the pan, skin side down. I’m not hearing a lot of sizzling here, that’s because my pan is low. That’s what we want. Right now I want it really quiet. The duck has to kind of slowly heat up in the pan and the fat will slowly start to render out. And then we’ll start to hear some sizzling. It takes a while and it’s going to be a good ten minutes before it really gets to that point.

Pour Out Excess Duck Fat

So, now it’s been about ten minutes and the duck skin and the duck fat are starting to render, and you can see what I mean by that. That the skin’s getting a little bit brown and a lot of the fat has started to melt out. What I want to do now is pour out this excess duck fat because, otherwise, the duck’s are going to fry in their own fat. I’ll just pour out of the pan and into a little dish. Now, we’re probably going to give these another ten minutes to render them more. You want a much more brown and more crispy then that. And, the fats really melting out now, and once more we have to pour the fat off the duck. So, hold onto the duck and carefully pour into a bowl.

Serve Duck Breasts Medium Rare

Usually, we like to serve duck breasts medium rare. They don’t harbor Salmonella. So, you can actually eat duck breasts rare. It’s perfectly safe.

So, now it’s time. I’m going to flip over the duck breasts because the skin is crispy and brown and beautiful and you can see, how all that fat underneath is gone. For a medium rare duck breast I’m going to cook this now for probably another 4 or 5 minutes. Then I’ll take it out of the pan and I’ll let it rest and then I’ll spice it up. So, how do we know when this duck is done? You want to make sure you give it a little squeeze. So, we’re looking for these to feel springy to the touch. So, I’m going to just let this sit now and rest. If I let this sit the juices have time to redistribute in the meat and doesn’t run out.

So, here’s our finished duck breast. And, you can see how thin the fat under the skin got and how crispy that skin is. It should be nice and pink inside. Just like that. That’s beautifully done. Thanks for watching. To learn more, find us on the web at about.com.
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