Duck Breast Cooking Tips & Recipes
Consumers often feel like they have to choose between flavor or health when it comes to choosing what protein to serve their family. You might love the flavor of red meat, but are concerned with the fat or calorie content. Or you like the healthfulness of turkey or chicken, but become bored with their bland flavor.
If you have faced this dilemma, you do not have to feel stuck any longer. Try duck. Duck breast packs a rich flavor like steak but is leaner like chicken or turkey when prepared properly.
Because duck breast bridges the red meat-poultry divide, it is extremely versatile. You can use duck breast in place of beef, pork or chicken in your favorite dishes or choose one of the many recipes we offer on our website.
Want to try swapping out steak or chicken for duck? Here are a few of our favorite recipes where duck breast is used in place of a traditional protein:
South American Chimichurri sauce makes this duck breast and Duck Fat Fries dish sizzle.
Duck breast provides a delicious new take on a traditional Italian pasta dish.
Adding crispy duck breast is the perfect way to level up your charcuterie board the next time you entertain.
Not all duck breast provides the same eating experience. In fact, there are significant differences among duck breeds. Although there are several breeds of ducks, these four are the most commonly used for meat production.
A cross between the Muscovy and Pekin duck, Moulard duck breast are large with a strong, gamey flavor.
Muscovy duck breast has a much stronger flavor and tougher texture as compared to its Pekin counterpart.
Wild and even farm-raised Mallard duck breast is smaller and tougher than other varieties. And while Mallard appears leaner, it often has a greasy, gamey taste that does not appeal to many consumers.
White Pekin duck breast is the most popular variety in the world due to its mild flavor and lean, tender texture. It adapts well to a wide range of flavor profiles and cuisines.
If you have health in mind when planning out your menus, you may feel like a lot of your options must center around chicken breast. It does not have to be that way. Duck breast can easily fit into a healthy diet while offering a rich flavor and tender texture that your family will love.
Despite what you may have been led to believe, duck meat is packed with health benefits that make it a great alternative to chicken or turkey breast.
Duck breast has fewer calories.
Although duck is packed with flavor, unlike other poultry, it has fewer calories than chicken or turkey breast when served without the skin. Maple Leaf Farms skinless duck breast is only 110 calories per serving while skinless chicken breast averages 165 calories per serving according to the USDA. So, duck breast is a great menu option if you are counting calories.
Duck breast can have less fat.
Pekin duck breast has less fat than many other proteins. In fact, a 3-ounce boneless, skinless duck breast is leaner than a 3-ounce portion of boneless, skinless chicken breast. And by properly cooking duck and scoring the skin, you can eliminate 70% of the fat.
Duck breast is packed with iron and other essential nutrients.
Duck breast has more iron per serving than chicken, turkey and even some cuts of beef. Plus, it is an excellent source of essential nutrients such as niacin, selenium, vitamins A, E, K, and B1 and B2.
Duck breast has “better for you” fat.
Duck fat is higher in monounsaturated fats than saturated fats. This means it is more similar to olive oil than other animal fats. Chefs love using duck fat in place of some vegetable oils because of its healthfulness, rich flavor and versatile cooking qualities.
Duck breast is a great option for anyone—from home cooks to culinary professionals. Because it is so versatile, it can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner or as an appetizer. And duck breast easily fits a variety of cuisines. From Italian to Asian to American, duck breast is a great center of the plate option for traditional or trendy dishes.
With its broad appeal and multitude of applications, duck breast is a great protein for distributors and retailers to stock and offer to their customers so more families can enjoy this delicious, healthy product whether they are dining out or cooking at home.
Chefs love duck breast because it is simple to prepare and the perfect protein to make any meal special. Although it can be prepared through a variety of cooking methods, the most popular way to cook duck breast is to slowly cook it in a sauté pan.
You might think you would use high heat to pan sear duck breast, but you would be wrong. Cooking duck breast in a cool pan over lower heat can ensure that you gently render out more of fat layered between the meat and skin. The result is a duck breast with tender meat and delicious, crispy skin.
To prepare a perfect pan roasted duck breast, follow these simple steps:
Season Both Sides
Season both the skin and meat sides with salt and pepper or a spice blend of your choosing.
Score the Skin
Use a sharp knife to cut through skin and fat layers at 1/4-inch intervals in a crosshatch pattern. Be careful not to cut into the meat because this will expose it to direct heat during the rendering process leading to overcooking. However, do not skip this step because scoring the skin increases the surface area of the layer of fat, allowing more of it to render off when exposed to heat.
Render the Fat
Place your scored duck breast skin side down in a cool pan and then turn the heat to medium-low to render out the fat for about 10 minutes. Starting with a cold pan and then cooking low and slow gives the fat more time to render out while the meat remains tender and juicy.
You can finish cooking the duck breast in a sauté pan or oven.
- Pan Method- Increase heat to medium and cook for a few minutes. Flip the breast before continuing to cook it on the flesh side for an additional 2 minutes
- Oven Method- Turn breast over in sauté pan and cook on meat side for 2 minutes before transferring to a metal baking sheet, skin side up. Place duck in oven for 13 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140°F (60°C) for medium done.
Let it Rest
Duck breast needs to rest for 10 minutes before you serve it to allow the internal temperature to continue to rise to a food safe level and ensure the juices do not purge out when it is sliced.
Reserve the Fat
Be sure to save the fat that melts off during the rendering process. Allow the liquid fat to cool slightly, then strain into a clean, sealable. If covered, you can store the duck fat in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or in the freezer for a year.
Duck breast offers incredible flavor and extremely tender meat when grilled, smoked or prepared sous vide.
Whether you prefer gas or charcoal, duck is great on the grill. To prepare grilled duck breast, be sure to score and render the duck breast before placing on the grill to prevent the risk of a grease fire.
Duck breast also works well in a smoker. Whether you use wood chips or pellets, smoked duck breast is a simple and delicious dish that highlights duck’s natural flavors.
For sous vide duck breast, you do not need to score the skin prior to cooking it, but you will want to score and sear the duck breast skin side down over medium-high heat before serving.
Duck breast is also great as an ingredient in your favorite recipes. No matter what meal or occasion you are preparing a menu for, Maple Leaf Farms has a duck breast recipe that will meet your needs and impress your guests. Here are a few of our favorites:
If you want to keep things simple, but also enhance the natural flavor of duck, try pairing it with a sauce. Duck breast pairs well with a variety of flavors. From zesty to fruity, these options are a great match for your next duck breast dish: Szechuan Peppercorn Sauce, Red Wine Dijon Sauce and Champagne Pear Sauce
Interested in buying duck breast for your next dining adventure? You can find a retail store near you that carries duck breast by visiting Maple Leaf Farms product locator. Or you can have duck breast delivered to your door by ordering online directly from Maple Leaf Farms.
Culinary professionals looking to add duck breast to their line up can source duck nationwide from a broad network of food distributors. To find out more, contact your Maple Leaf Farms sales rep here to find out what distributors carry our products near you.