Thursday, December 29, 2011

Crispy Pan Seared Duck Breast with a Red Wine and Blueberry Reduction, Duck Fat Sautéed Potatoes Paired with 2009 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Parris County Blend Virginia Merlot

Pan Seared Duck Breast Wine and Blueberry Reduction

Way back in the early days of my culinary independence, I picked duck as a challenge not yet conquered.  This recipe is my first foray into the wonderful world of duck, and duck fat.  My first attempt was very successful, and I have prepared it several times since.  However, I realized I had not shared this recipe.  Today, I am rectifying this tragic oversight.

If you have not yet attempted duck, this is an easy and tasty place to start.  From prep to plating, this recipe takes only 30 minutes with the most difficult challenge for the uninitiated being cutting the breast from a whole duck.  If you are not comfortable with this, I am confident you will find plenty of resources on Youtube.  You can also follow these easy instructions. 

Pan Seared Duck Breast Wine and Blueberry Reduction-2

First, a boning knife is a real plus.  If not, any knife with a sharp tip will work.  Begin by scoring through the fat along the center of the duck.  Continue to lightly cut until you reach the bone.  Once you get to the bone, move you knife slightly to one side and continue to make scoring cuts along the bone until the breast is laying off to the side and connected by just the layer of fat.  Cut through the fat, and you have a duck breast ready for the pan.  Repeat for second breast.

The principal flavors in this dish include the mild gaminess of the duck, dark fruit flavors of the red wine and blueberry reduction, and the rich earthy flavors of the potatoes pan fried in duck fat (the fat is reserved from rendering the duck breast).  With the acidity of the reduction, this dish is well balanced and therefore selecting a wine with strong acidity is not particularly important.  The combination of duck and the reduction call out for a medium to full bodied wine (tending more to the full bodied).  A wine featuring dark fruit flavors and healthy earthiness will also echo flavors found in the dish.

2009 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Parris County Blend Virginia Merlot

To achieve the pairing characteristics I was looking for, I chose a 2009 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Parris County Blend Virginia Merlot.  You are first greeted with earthy and dark fruit aromas which are echoed in your first sip.  Although the flavors feature pleasant blackberry and plum notes, I find the earthiness most memorable.  The tannins accentuated the earthiness and promise this wine will continue to drink well for years to come.  I am confident this wine has not yet arrived at it’s peak.  I recommend picking up a few bottles to cellar for a few years.

2009 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Parris County Blend Virginia Merlot-1

The 2009 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Parris County Blend Virginia Merlot featured each of the flavor components I was looking for, and the pairing was a great success.  Although I was not looking for healthy acidity, the wine delivered and balanced the rich duck fat perfectly.



  • 2 duck breasts
  • 2 cups full bodied red wine (extra tannins are good)
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 potatoes (thinly sliced – I used a mandolin)
  • 1 onion (thinly sliced – I used a mandolin)
  • red wine vinegar and sugar (to adjust balance of reduction)
  • 4 tablespoons duck demi glace
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Fresh parsley

Pan Seared Duck Breast Wine and Blueberry Reduction-1


  1. Score the fat on the duck breast in a 1/2 inch cross hatch pattern.
  2. Place the duck, fat side down, in a cold skillet.  Render fat over medium low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Pour rendered fat into second skillet for frying potatoes.
  4. While rendering the fat, pour two cups of red wine into a sauce pan and reduce by 1/2 over medium high heat.
  5. When reduced by half, add blueberries (reserving about 1/4), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and demi glace.  Reduce by 1/2 again.
  6. Increase heat under the duck to medium high and crisp the skin.  When crisp, return heat to medium, and turn breasts to the meat side.  Continue to cook for 8 minutes.
  7. Remove the red wine and blueberry reduction from the heat and blend with an immersion blender.  Adjust balance by adding sugar or red wine vinegar. Add remaining blueberries and return to medium heat.
  8. Bring your second skillet (with duck fat) to medium high heat, and add thinly sliced potatoes, onion, garlic, and 1/4 cup diced parsley leaves.  Continue to cook until potatoes are tender and just turning brown.  Season to taste.
  9. Remove duck from heat, slice on the bias and plate with a drizzle of the reduction.  Plate potatoes and onions with parsley garnish.

In vino veritas, buen provecho


No comments:

Post a Comment