icon Duck breast with demi-glace sauce

This is a relatively simple dish, but the trick to making it taste great lies in the ingredients. Use a store-bought reduction sauce (maybe even dried, in a bag) or store-bought chicken soup in a can, and kiss all chances of impressing your dinner guests good-bye!

Start with preparing a top-notch chicken broth. (It takes all afternoon, so do not think you can start cooking at 6 pm for a dinner at 7....) We use chicken wings, organic carrots, celery root and parsley root, oregano, thyme and rosemary, and (being from New Orleans) a little Créole seasoning. First, bake the meat and vegetables, rubbed with a little tomato paste the way Emeril Lagasse does it, then cover everything with water in a large stock pot, add all the seasonings and herbs, and boil it for 4 hours or more. Add water as needed and reduce the broth down to 1-2 cups.

The demi-glace sauce is wonderfully simple (once the broth is done). Simply simmer minced shallots is some port (or brandy), add the broth and a little butter, adjust the salt and pepper, and finito.


  • 2 large duck breasts, fat trimmed along the edges
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1-2 cups ruby port wine
  • 1-2 cup chicken broth
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Using a sharp knife, score the skin, cutting diagonally in both directions. Cut all the way through the skin and most of the fat, but avoid the flesh.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season flesh side with pepper, and place skin side down in an unheated skillet. Cook over medium heat until the skin is nicely browned and crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Use tongs, turn the breast over and and brown in the fat for 1 minute. Remove from fire and bake in the same skillet in the oven for another 10-12 minutes for medium-rare. Wrap in aluminum foil and keep warm. The meat will continue to cook slightly during this time.
  3. While the duck is cooking, prepare the demi-glace sauce. Simmer the shallots in the port wine and cook until soft, for several minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add the chicken broth, thyme, and perhaps a little of the melted duck fat. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce is syrupy and reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter until fully incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
  4. Slice the duck crosswise on a slight angle into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange on serving plates, and drizzle with sauce before serving.
  5. Serve with Potatoes gratin dauphinois
  6. YIELD: Serves 4


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Last updated: June 6, 2016