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Pan-Seared Duck with Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving duck breast with cranberry sauce and parmesan potatoes

Thanksgiving duck breast with cranberry sauce and parmesan potatoes. (Photo: Tony Bullard)

Chef Alfredo came up with this addictive recipe for cranberry sauce a few years ago at Thanksgiving.  Part of its simplicity comes from using canned whole cranberries instead of too-tart fresh cranberries. He loves this sauce so much that he wanted to make it a year-round affair, so at Amore, he serves it with duck instead of turkey. At home, he also pairs the cranberry sauce with grilled pork chops or roasted chicken thighs.


2 oranges, juiced
1 (14 oz) can Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/4 cup of bourbon or brandy
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon butter
4 duck breasts, 4 to 5 ounces each
Kosher sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe directions: 

In a saucepan over medium heat, add orange juice, whole cranberry sauce, dried cranberries, bourbon, and cinnamon stick. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Incorporate the butter and remove the cranberry sauce from the heat. Allow to cool, then transfer the sauce into a container and refrigerate until you’re ready to use. The sauce can be made a few hours in advance or the day before.

With a sharp knife, gently score duck breast skin in a crosshatch pattern. The deeper the score, the more fat will be rendered, but take care not to expose the flesh. If you prefer a little fat on the breasts after cooking, just lightly score the skin. Season duck breasts with salt and pepper, heavily on the skin side and lightly on the flesh side.

Place duck breasts skin side down into a large sauté pan. Place pan over low to medium-low heat. To keep the edges from curling up, press duck breasts down with the help of a large spatula or smaller sauté pan. After a few minutes, the fat should begin to render. Cook until skin is golden brown and crispy. Flip over and cook the meat side for about 3 minutes, or until the duck’s internal temperature is 125°F on an instant-read thermometer. For medium-rare meat, cook until breast registers 130°F for medium-rare duck, 140°F (60°C) for medium, and 155°F (68°F) for well-done. Remove duck from the pan and set aside to rest. Duck breasts can be served whole or sliced with cranberry sauce. Make 4 servings.

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