I’ll start this off with the simplest way I know to cook guaranteed perfect duck breast and then follow up with one of two sauces - an a l’orange and poached pears in red wine.

Begin by slicing through the fat in a “criss-cross” pattern and seasoning all sides generously with Chinese 5 spice, salt, and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 80 degrees and heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add the duck breasts skin side down and cook for about 6 minutes until the skin is deeply browned. The duck should sizzle, but it shouldn’t splatter wildly or smoke too much. If the skin appears to be browning too fast and there is a risk of badly burning, reduce the heat slightly.

Transfer the duck, skin side up, to an oven rack (set a plate in the oven under the rack as it will drop fat and makes cleaning up easy). Roast until medium-rare; A thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 60-65 degrees - usually about 50-55 minutes. Take it out of the oven and cover with foil and let it rest for at least 10 mins. As a side note, a good amount of duck fat will be left behind in the skillet/plate. Reserve this fat to sauté any vegetables in!

A l’orange

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons shallots
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 oranges, sections cut from membranes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • Small amount of corn flour (not 100% necessary)

Boil the sugar and water for several minutes, until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden brown color. Add the vinegar, juice, shallots, and chicken stock and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a little less than a cup. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of orange zest / add some corn flour to thicken. Stir in orange sections.

Red Wine & Pears

  • 2 large pears ( peeled and slice flat at the bottom)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Small amount of cinnamon

Combine the wine, water, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Add pears and cook, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside for 1 hour to cool.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a bowl, reserving 125ml (1/2 cup) of the poaching liquid. Add some stock, vinegar, and reserved poaching liquid and bring to the boil over high heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes or until reduced by half. Add pears and cook for 5 minutes or until heated through.