Duck is one of those things that most people only think of as a restaurant food.
Meaning they would only order it in a restaurant and never in a million years think of cooking it at home.
This is kind of odd to me because duck is just a bird, like chicken, and honestly it is pretty easy to prepare. Also, as people get more adventurous, duck is available in most good supermarkets and almost every butcher worth their salt will have some ready for you.
For this maple glazed duck breast
, just make sure that you get the breasts with the skin on. Why anyone would want skinless duck breasts is a mystery to me, but I’ve seen them. You should avoid them like the plague. The skin on a duck is the best part!
That said, the duck breast can have a bit too much skin sometimes. So there is some preparation you need to do before we can cook the birds.
Start by trimming off any extra skin around the breast. You want the skin to cover the breast, but it shouldn’t be overhanging a lot.
Then, because the skin and fat is so thick, you want to take a sharp knife and score a few slits right in the skin. This will help some of the fat render out in the skin.
Just be sure not to slice into the meat itself or it’ll dry out as it cooks.
The challenge with cooking duck is that the skin layer is really thick. It’s a very fatty bird. You would be too if you had to hang out on a cold lake all day!
When you’re cooking duck, there are three competing concepts that we’re trying to perform at the same time:
1) Render out as much fat at possible from the skin.
2) Make the skin crispy.
3) Not overcook the bird (I like my duck to be a nice medium – still a bit pink on the inside).
These things can be a bit tricky to pull off, but here’s what I do that seems to work well.
When you’re starting to cook the duck, place it skin-side down in a cold, dry skillet. This will let the skin heat up slowly which will start rendering out a lot of that fat.
This is one of the very few times you’ll see me add meat to a completely cold pan, but it works in this case.
If you have any extra skin that you trimmed off, you can add it to the pan also. It’ll render down and give you lots of good duck fat.
Put this skillet of cold duck over medium high heat and let it cook for about 5-6 minutes. A lot of the fat should start to render out and the duck skin should start to brown a bit. If it isn’t doing these things, then you need to turn up your heat.
This was mine after about 6 minutes of cooking.
Flip your breasts at this point and sear the other side of the breast to lock in the juices. Cook it skin-side up for about 2 minutes.
While your duck is cooking, mix up your maple glaze. This is a super-easy glaze to make. Just whisk together the maple syrup (use the real stuff), cayenne pepper, and brown sugar in a small bowl.
After your breast sears on both sides, you want to finish it in a pre-heated 400 degree oven. If you have an oven-safe pan, you can slide it straight into the oven (duck should be skin-side down again). Otherwise you can transfer your duck to a baking dish and then stick it in the oven.
Cook the duck for 4 minutes skin-side down.
Remove the duck, flip it (skin-side up now) and start glazing it. Baste on a nice layer of the maple glaze.
Once the duck is glazed, return it to the oven and cook it for another 4 minutes skin-side up.
Remove the duck from the oven, glaze it one more time, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Letting the duck rest will let all the juices redistribute in the meat.
When slicing your duck, slice it into thick slices so they stay warm. One breast should end up being 4-5 slices.
You could serve this with a lot of things, but I chose to serve it with Israeli couscous and some steamed vegetables.
While it may have a slightly maple flavor, I still recommend saving the rendered duck fat for other cooking uses. It’s awesome to cook potatoes in.
Not everyone is a fan of duck, but if you like it, you need to try this. The maple glaze is slightly spicy and sweet and gives the duck a really nice flavor.
Duck, Duck, Cooked Duck RecipesNick put this glaze on an old shoe and you know what? It was delicious. Be sure to check out his blog, Macheesmo and his Tablespoon profile.