A few of my favorite things - duck, a little sweet, a little spicy, a little citrus. And simple - really this comes together in a snap. And as an extra added bonus you get to use the word lacquered. One simply does not get to say lacquered often enough. —aargersi
Test Kitchen Notes
The combination of flavors in this recipe is delightful; classic duck & orange combo with a twist. The maple syrup adds a sweetness which is not too cloying and not immediately identifiable as maple (a plus, in my opinion). Salt the breasts abundantly and skip black pepper before placing in the pan; better to pepper later as the grounds will scorch. The dish is visually pleasing, as well; the pink flesh with orange zest, thyme leaves, and browned skin would make a lovely dinner party presentation. —Rebecca Vitale
duck breasts - mine were nice and fat from the farmers market - the size will of course affect the cook time
grade B pure maple syrup
crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
In This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 375. Score the skin of your duck in a criss-cross pattern, about a half inch apart, being careful not to cut through to the meat. Generously salt and pepper the duck all over.
Heat an oven safe skillet just to medium. It is important not to get the heat too high, because you want to brown and crisp the skin and render most of the fat without burning the skin or overcooking the meat. An iron skillet is really best for this. I also give it a spritz of no-stick JUST to be safe.
Put the duck breasts in skin side down. Once you start to see some fat rendering, move them around a bit. Check periodically - the skin should be slowly turning deep golden brown. As the fat renders you may want to remove some, you want about 1/8 - 1/4 inch of fat in the pan. Save that extra rendered fat for potatoes or something - it's magic!
While the duck is browning mix together the syrup, zest, thyme and red pepper. Once your skin is brown and crispy and glorious, flip the duck over and spoon the syrup glaze over. Into the oven with it. After about 5 minutes, Re-lacquer the duck with the now fatty sticky wonderfulness in the pan, then back into the oven for about 5 more minutes (depending on the size of your ducks) - an internal temp of 125-130 is medium rare which is duck breast at its most delicious.
Make sure to rest the duck for at least 5 minutes, 10 is better, before slicing.