Perfectly Cooked Duck Breast with a Wild Mushroom and Cognac Sauce

Perfect color and crispiness on that skin.
Perfect color and crispiness on that skin.

Sometimes all the culinary gods decide to bless your endeavor and you end up with an almost identical interpretation on the plate of what you had in mind. Here we have it, beautifully crispy skin duck with all the fat rendered and beautifully pink on the inside, and an earthy gooey rich wild mushroom sauce with sweetness and just a touch of tartness to cut through all the richness. Best thing about it, it’s all surprisingly quite easy to make. Recipe after the jump.

Serves 2

Preheat the oven to 200C with fan

For the Duck:

2 Duck breasts with the skin on

Salt and pepper for seasoning

For the sauce:

200g of mixed chopped (roughly) wild mushrooms

1 shallot chopped finely

1 garlic clove peeled and squashed with the side of your knife

1 tsp of date balsamic vinegar or pomegranate mollasses

2 tbsp of cognac

1/2 cup of white wine (feel free to use red as well)

2/3 cup of good chicken stock

2-3 tbsp of heavy cream

1-2 tsp of roux

Start with the sauce, in a pan, over a medium high heat, heat up some olive oil and then add the shallots and garlic, cook for a few minutes until they start to soften and become translucent, stir occasionally to make sure nothing starts to brown or burn. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushroom release their moisture and start to brown as well (possibly around 10mins), then remove about 1/4 of the mushrooms and reserve on the side. Add the cognac and let almost all of it cook away, then add the wine and reduce till almost all the liquid is gone, then add the stock, the molasses and the cream and reduce the heat to a low simmer.

While the sauce is simmering away and reducing, you can start cooking the duck. I might make a post dedicated to cooking duck, but this video by Gordon Ramsey here is great. Season both sides of the duck with lots of salt and pepper and place skin side down in a heavy bottom pan off the heat. If you’re using an electric or ceramic top hob, turn on the heat well in advance to make sure that the hob is already hot. Place the pan over the heating element or flame and allow the duck fat to render out as the pan heats up. Once the skin has browned (3-4 minutes) place the pan in the oven (still skin side down) for 6-7 minutes.

Now you can see finishing up the sauce, which has been simmering away. Add the remaining reserved mushrooms now. You’ll want to make a quick roux as indicated here, and then whisking in 1 tsp to the sauce to thicken it. You may then need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to loosen the sauce up a bit. Adjust seasoning if necessary. The consistency should be as shown in the picture above, still liquid, but thick enough not to run all over the plate when plated.

Now it’s probably time to bring it all together, take the duck out of the oven, and flip them over and allow the other side to cook over a high heat for just 30s, just to sear it very quickly. It is very important to let the duck rest, and like with beef, resting time should be at least half the cooking time (so about 5min here). Spoon some sauce and mushrooms over a plate and place the duck breast over it, skin side up. You can plate the duck whole or sliced, personally I always prefer to slice my proteins myself.

Hope you enjoy.

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