Duck breast with peach sauce succeeds with substitute jam and sans thermometer

We very much like duck breast in Gourmandistan, but we’re always a little leery when we cook it. Getting to that perfect stage, a bit beyond rare but before the liverish taste takes over, isn’t something we do with consistency. This method, originally paired with a black currant sauce, seems to work well even without a meat thermometer (which we have, but can never quite bring ourselves to trust).

Alternating pan-searing with a quick trip to the oven, the breast turned out with well-crisped skin and lovely pink meat. Peach jam, blended with shallot, ginger, honey and vinegar, added a sweet kick.

Perhaps next time we’ll be more confident with our meat thermometer. But even if we still slightly mistrust our eyes, we have more peach jam should be buy another nice breast of duck.


(adapted from Michael Lomonaco via Washington Post)

  • 1 medium duck breast half (about 10-12 ounces)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TB duck fat
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated (about ½ TB)
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 c. peach jam, whirred in processor if chunky
  • 1-1/2 TB apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Score the fat on the duck with a sharp knife and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the duck, fat side down, in a small or medium ovenproof skillet.

Heat duck fat in a tiny saucepan or skillet. Add shallot and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until softened. Add ginger, honey, jam and vinegar. Cook for a couple of minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and more vinegar if needed. Turn off heat and reserve.

Place the pan with the duck in it over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes (reducing heat it if starts to cook too quickly) until the fat is mostly rendered and the skin is crisp. Pour the fat into a heatproof container, then strain and reserve for later use.

Turn over the duck breast so fat side is up. Place in oven cook for 4 minutes (or, per the original recipe, until the flesh reaches 145° F on an instant-read thermometer.)

Remove from oven. Let duck rest on a chopping board for 5 minutes. Meanwhile reheat sauce. Slice duck and pour sauce over.


  1. We love duck in our house too, but tend to save it for a dining out treat. Nobody cooks duck as well as the Asians. Think crisp skin, meltingly tender flesh, sweet savoury sauces. (I’m salivating at the thought.) Love your simple peach sauce, sounds like a ducky marriage made in heaven

  2. Eha

    Another duck lover here: oft cook it at home, but usually when friends arrive. Sandra above made me think: looked up my ‘duck file’ – yes, 7 out of 10 firm favourite recipes were Asian 🙂 ! Cooking duck is like preparing a fine steak . . . . a thrill to get the degree of preparedness just right ! Fun !!

    • I think I love the legs best. So easy. But the breast, when done well, is awfully good. Now if I could just master a roast one for anything other than the beautiful fat it produces. (Which is a good thing!)

  3. I adore duck breast. I also first pan-fry starting in a cold pan to crisp the skin, then finish cooking in the oven. Peach sauce is wonderful, I love duck with various seasonal fruit in general. Beautiful recipe!

    • Merci, Darya! I can’t take a lot of credit for the recipe, except for changing the type of jam. But you’re right: duck and almost any fruit is a wonderful combination.

  4. One of my all times favorites! I never made it with an actual peach sauce (just with peach chunks seared in the fat ) , but that Asian touch you give it using ginger sounds just genious ! On the list of things to cook this week 🙂

  5. I’m with Darya, I always start with a cold pan. I was taught to do that a long time ago and have forgotten by whom, but it works. I flip the duck over when the skin is crispy and put it in a pre heated oven at about 200ºC for 4 or 5 minutes, depending on size. I have got a thermometer, but rarely use it. I haven’t had it for that long but have found that traditional cooking instructions work – when Ive bothered to check old wisdom and experience against the thermometer it has been perfect. However, I do check smoking temperatures and anything else that requires precision.
    I bet your duck was delicious 🙂

    • It was quite good, and so easy! I don’t know why I don’t use a thermometer more often with meat. I swear by a thermometer when deep-frying. Hope you’ve been enjoying the end of summer.

  6. Steve, I am a big fan of duck with fruit. This sounds like a lovely recipe. I have done the breast on a barely warm pan to render the fat, pouring it off as it leeches. It takes an age but is worth it. Then take the breast off, get the pan very hot and sear the skin. After that it’s into the oven and you can guess the rest. I love the jam thought.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: