Duck breast with balsamic cherry sauce

By Michael Bonacini
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  • 4 large duck breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil

Balsamic cherry sauce:

  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) red wine
  • 2 cups (480 milliliters) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) Dijon
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) sugar
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) ground cloves
  • 2 cups (480 milliliters) pitted, sliced red cherries
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh thyme leaves, for garnishing


For the duck:

  1. Allow duck breasts to sit for one hour at room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Pat duck breasts dry of excess moisture with paper towel, score the skin, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Place duck breasts skin-side down in skillet, pressing down gently to make sure all skin comes into contact with the skillet. Sear for six to seven minutes. Flip breasts and place skillet in hot oven for five to six minutes, or until the breasts are medium rare. Remove from heat and place on board, then tent with tinfoil. Let rest for ten minutes, then remove foil and slice duck on a bias. Fan breast out, skin side up, on serving dishes, then drizzle with balsamic cherry sauce.

For the sauce:

  1. Drain half the fat from the skillet used to sear the duck breast, then place skillet over medium heat. Add wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce wine by half. Add balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and sugar and whisk to combine. Add sprigs of thyme, ground cloves, and cherries. Turn heat down to low and simmer, stirring periodically, until sauce sticks to the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, then whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle sauce over seared duck breasts. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

Buon appetito!

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