Duck Breast with Orange Gastrique

Apologies.  I realize that it has been awhile since my last post, and to be honest, there was quite some time between my last two posts.  It’s that time of year again—school time.  The time of year when I spend all day teaching and all night either going to grad school or working on grad school projects.  And while I love teaching, and well like tolerate grad school, I just have a hard time finding time to cook.

Last weekend, Brandon and I threw together another beer can chicken.  It was just as delicious as the last.  Other than that, we enjoyed some yummy bites at some of our favorite NYC places:  Lamarca (terrific pasta), Num Pang (Banh Mi [Vietnamese-inspired] sandwiches), and The Meatball Shop (well, I think you can figure that one out).

So, in order to provide you with a new recipe, I am looking back at a meal we made a few months ago.  It is certainly one of my favorites, and although it sounds fancy, it’s really not too difficult to make.  However, it does take some attention to detail.

Whenever I go out for dinner and duck is on the menu, I order it.  I just love it’s meaty flavor and its crispy, often crackly, skin.  It took me awhile to even think that I could make duck at home, but after receiving Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, I decided to try my hand at it.  This recipe is simple and requires very few ingredients.  It’s succulent and impressive.  Not to mention, you can toss waxy fingerlings in the rendered duck fat before throwing them in a 400-degree oven to make some insanely delicious roasted potatoes.  

Duck Breast with Orange Gastrique

From Martha Stewart’s Cooking School


  • 2 duck breasts
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 orange (peel of half the orange—no pith [the white portion]—julienned, whole orange juiced to yield about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup good red wine vinegar


  1. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add julienned orange peel to boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes.  Drain.  Reserve orange strips.
  2. In the same pot, heat sugar over medium-high heat.  Do not stir.  When the sugar starts to melt, gently shake the pot to evenly distribute the melted sugar.
  3. Cook the sugar until it is amber in color (about 5 minutes).  Carefully pour in the vinegar and stir with a wooden spoon.  Allow mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes more, or until slightly reduced and thickened.
  4. Add orange juice and julienned orange peel.  Simmer about 5 minutes more, or until mixture is thick and syrupy and a foam begins to form on the surface.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat, and set aside.
  6. Use a sharp knife to trim excess fat from edges of both breasts (fat should still cover the entire top of the breast), and score the skin.  Cut skin diagonally in one direction—just through the skin, not cutting the meat—and then in the opposite direction.

    Scoring the skin

  7. Generously season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.  Place in an unheated skillet skin-side down.  Turn on heat to medium-low.
  8. Cook breasts until a small pool of fat forms in the bottom of the pan.  Turn breasts over and cook for an additional minute.  Pour off fat into a bowl (reserve or use to coat potatoes for roasting).
  9. Turn breasts back over onto their skin-sides.  Cook 10-12 minutes more, or until skin is browned and crispy.  Continue to pour off rendered fat.
  10. Turn breasts again (skin-side up) and cook 8-12 minutes more, or until a meat thermometer registers 125 degrees in the thickest part of the breasts.  Place breasts on a wire rack over a sheet pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving
  11. Slice duck against the grain in 1/2-inch slices and drizzle with gastrique.  

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