Fraser Valley Duck Breast Taster

Fraser Valley Duck Breast Taster


Seared duck is served with squash purée and is finished with a silky Saskatoon Berry Jus.
  • Serves: 4 taster size
  • Active Time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Total Time: 4 hrs
  • Views: 35,929
  • Success Rating: 96% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Making the Duck Short Stock

• 2 1/2 lb duck bones (from one whole duck)
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 whole carrot
• 1 whole onion
• 1 whole apple
• 1 stalk celery
• 1/2 leek
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 cup white wine
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 1 cup demi-glace


To start the short stock, use the bones from a whole duck. Make sure the bones are cut into approximately 2" -inch pieces.

Heat a pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the bones and cook until evenly caramelized and golden all over, about 20 to 30 minutes. Duck is very fatty so as the fat melts, strain the grease from the pan so the bones caramelize properly.

While the bones cook, prepare the mirepoix. Cut the celery, carrot, leek, onion and apple into approximately 2" -inch pieces.

Once the bones have caramelized, remove and set aside. Add the remaining oil and sauté the vegetables for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, until they start to and caramelize. Once done, deglaze with the white wine and simmer until all of the liquid has reduced, about 3 or 4 minutes. Next, add the chicken stock, thyme, demi-glace and the duck bones. Bring this to a quick boil and then turn the heat down to low. Let simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.

Once the stock has reduced and turned a rich, dark color, it is ready to be strained through a fine mesh sieve. Place the stock into a pot and reduce by about half over medium-low heat or until the sauce has a thicker, sauce-like consistency. This should take about 20 to 30 minutes.

Once ready, check the sauce for seasoning and then set it aside while you prepare the squash.

Step 2: Preparing and Cooking the Squash

• 1/2 kabocha or butternut squash
• 1/2 onion
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1/8 tsp kosher salt
• 1 pinch white pepper
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken stock


Peel and cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds and cut into approximately 1" -inch pieces. Because this is a taster menu and the portions are half of the squash is more than enough for 4 people.

Next, finely dice the onion. Over medium-low heat, melt the butter and cook the onions until translucent. Add the squash, salt, pepper and cook for a minute or two. Add just enough chicken stock to cover the squash. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer on low until tender. When a knife slides into the squash easily, it is ready to be puréed.

Place the squash into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Set aside while you prepare the duck. To reheat the squash, either microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on high or reheat in a small sauce pan over low heat.

Step 3: Preparing and Cooking the Duck

• 2 duck breasts (2 singles)
• 1/4 tsp kosher salt
• 1/8 tsp white pepper
• 1 whole shallot
• 1/2 cup Saskatoon berries (can substitute with Huckleberries or Wild Blueberries)
• 1/2 cup port wine
• 1 cup duck stock (from Step 1)
• fleur de sel (for garnish)


To start the duck, preheat the oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit.

Score the fat of the duck breasts and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Next, heat an oven proof fry pan to medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the duck, fat side down. Let cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. For the best results, pour off any excess fat as the duck cooks. Once the fat becomes crispy and the sides of the duck start to cook, place into the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes to cook. This time will depend on the size of the duck breasts. When cooking duck, it is best if cooked no more than medium rare. Once ready, allow the duck to sit for a minute before loosely covering with foil. Set aside to rest. While the duck rests, you can prepare the Saskatoon berry Jus and reheat the squash purée.

For the jus (or sauce), finely mince the shallot. Add a bit more oil to the pot, if needed, and cook the shallot over medium heat for about a minute. Deglaze the pan with the port and add the Saskatoon berries. Let this reduce by about half. Once reduced, add about a cup of duck stock and stir. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick. Any leftover stock can be frozen and used another time.

To plate the duck, first reheat the squash and make sure your sauce is nice and hot. Slice each duck breast into 4 pieces, lengthwise. Smear the squash purée onto the plate and place two pieces of duck per plate. Drizzle with a bit of the sauce and finish with a pinch of fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

Chef's Notes

By increasing the portion size this taster menu can easily be a delicious full course meal.


  • Marshall O
    Marshall O
    How about roasting the squash, instead of sauting it? that would add another dimension to the flavor.
  • Lisa P
    Lisa P
    I live in France and have been looking at Duck breasts (canard marget)for a year now without a clue what to do with it. I followed your directions carefully and I couldn't belive how beautifully it turned out. At the last minute (bad mise en place) I realized I didn't have any porto so I used red wine and casis istead. And of course saskatoon berries are out of the question, but I used a frozen berry mix instead which did the trick. I never would have had the confidence to make it without your wonderful video, and my French husband was very impressed!
  • Rylla R
    Rylla R
    Ok, I am curious why not just caramelize the veggies in duck fat? Why add olive oil?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I think the main reason we used olive oil instead of duck fat is the simple fat that this was not our recipe. This recipe is from chef Dino Renaerts. It's his personal wedding menu...and we didn't want to change his recipe. That being said, you could use duck fat instead as it has almost the same smoking point as refined olive oil.
  • Rylla R
    Rylla R
    Thanks - I feel like I ask some specific questions (with perhaps obvious answers) but it is the nuances that you are teaching me. I have learned so much with some of the little details, especially understanding the whys. So I figure it is worth asking. I had the instincts and basic skills; now the fine tuning; such a joy - thank you!
  • Sushruth C
    Sushruth C
    when i remove the legs, it is very hard to pop out that joint unlike a chicken where it pops out very easily. am i doing something wrong?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    No, if you follow the video on How to Butcher a Duck, you are not doing anything wrong. You just might need to use a little more force to pop the joint.
  • Sushruth C
    Sushruth C
    when someone says preheat pan to medium low, or medium high, does that mean you set the gas to that temp and do the water test? do you still have to even do the water test? will the water test work at medium low to low temps? thanks
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Hi Sushruth, This depends on a few things: 1. what you are trying to accomplish (sear, brown, saute, etc). 2. what kind of pan you are using I mention this because the first thing you should always do when 'following' recipe instructions is to know that many recipes use the wrong terms and mention the wrong temperatures. To answer your questions when using a stainless steel pan, the water test will not work on lower heat. I would do the water test and then turn the pan temperature down before adding the ingredients (or just set aside for a minute or two). From here, rely on your technique, your observation skills (sight, sound and watching what the ingredients are doing, such as getting too dark, not dark enough). Know your outcome and trust your judgement vs. following instructions. Oh, and if you are sweating, then you don't even need to do the water test as you will be cooking on low temperature in fat.
  • Sushruth C
    Sushruth C
    so for a duck breast, you would do the water test on high heat and then turn the heat to meaduim low? ...right? thanks
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    You are getting closer. Do the water test yes and then trust your instincts (not directions). If you want a crispy skin (and you do), then medium low will not likely achieve this. And you don't want to burn it, by keeping it on high. So what do you think you should do (again, turning it back to you)? Not trying to be mean, just trying to help you change your way of thinking. One last thought.... what is medium low to me and 1,000 other cooks, might be completely different. So don't get hung up on the temperatures too much, think desired end results.
  • Sushruth C
    Sushruth C
    ok here it goes: turn the heat to high and do the water test once the pan is virually nonstick then turn the heat to medium-high. thus, duck wont stick, fat will render and a nice crispy skin will be achived? one more question though. can you finish cooking the duck after searing in the sauce? or does it have to go into the oven? thanks
  • Sushruth C
    Sushruth C
    Can you finish cooking the duck in the sauce as opposed to the oven? Thanks
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You can finish cooking the duck in the pan (not necessarily in the sauce) as opposed to the oven. You will just have to take into consideration - the heat, how you want the duck cooked etc. Cheers!
  • Mary B
    Mary B
    Why does duck seem to be cooked more rare, when chicken is cooked thoroughly. Just started working with duck and wondering....if you have already addressed this, sorry to repeat!! Are most birds other than turkey and chicken best when cooked this way? Thanks.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Good question. Here is a Drill-down called "Cooking Duck to Medium-Rare" that talks a bit about this. You may also want to check out the lesson called "Poultry Fundamental" as it also goes into a bit about working and cooking with duck. Cheers!
  • Divina C
    Divina C
    Would frozen blueberries work well? I would like to serve it with duck confit and puy de lentils. Thanks.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Frozen blueberries could work. Preferably, try to find ones that are smaller in size so they do not overpower the meat when it comes time to plating. Cheers!
  • K A
    K A
    I used to cook the duck the same way you do here and it always came back very good with a crispy skin. The last two times I cooked duck I bought those huge duck breasts ( I actually thought there where two in the same package !) I think they were magret duck or something. They were very big with a very thick fat cap , bigger than the flesh itself !. The first time I said will duck is duck and I cooked it the same way you did here but it came back horrible with a soggy fat layer instead of a thin crispy one. The second time I thought I should try something I saw on tv where they put the duck in a cold pan and heat it gently to render the fat. The problem with this method is that it took 30 minutes and the fat cab was still too thick and starting to get brown. Is there any trick to cook this kind of duck ?
  • Tony M Rouxbe Staff
    Tony M
    Actually the method of rendering the fat on low heat is your best bet. Make sure to score the skin first so it renders much more fat. Also, keep the temp low. This takes time, I know, but scoring should help. Magret breasts simply have tons of fat becasue those are usally the same ducks that are fed for foie gras.
  • Adrian K
    Adrian K
    Hi Tony, Dawn, Joe, and Kimberly, Just wanted to find out where I can get that double lipped saucepan from in the "Duck Short Stock" section (can be seen at the 4:06 mark). Cheers!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    If you referring to the pot in step 1 that has two pouring spouts (one on each side) then I would have to say that I am not 100% sure of where I bought it. I believe it might have been at a local store here in Vancouver. I did do a quick search online and there are other pots available with the double pouring spouts. Cheers!
  • Yuseph K
    Yuseph K
    Hi there, This was my first experience cooking duck. It looked great and I think I nailed the recipe except that my sauce wasn't super tasty probably due to using vermouth instead of porto. My spouse thought the duck had a strong taste. Would you recommend something to mellow out the flavor? Perhaps use a dry rub or marinate it juice? Cheers
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Yuseph- For sure duck has a stronger flavor, say, then compared to chicken breast or some other very light meat. You'll notice that the flesh duck was actually quite dark. This is just the flavor that duck has, so if you'd like to augment it with a marinade or rub then consider that to only an added/supportive flavor to the existing duck flavor. It won't change it. Good luck. ~Ken

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