20
Mar
11

Roasted Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce

We’re out of the woods as far as winter goes. Our first daffodil bloomed three days ago. My chives are peaking over the lips of their flower pots. And today it was too hot for sweaters, or even jeans. But I’m still in winter mode when it comes to cooking. Something roasted and warm with a little heat is what sounds good right now.

This duck recipe is a fusion of  sweetness and heat: the Middle East meets Mexico. This sauce is seriously amazing. It’s a little like barbecue sauce. It would be amazing with pork. It’s one my favorite finds this winter, so I really smothered the duck with it. Jeff deserves full credit for finding this one — he first made it for dinner a few weeks ago. I made it again because it is so delicious.

The beauty of this: the sauce requires the most work, and it can be made well in advance. Searing and roasting the duck takes no time at all. It’s elegant and fairly easy. Definitely a show stopper.

Roasted Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit, Dec. 2009

Sauce:

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups refrigerated pomegranate juice (such as Pom)
1 3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 large dried California chiles,* stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo**
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse kosher salt

Duck:
8 5-to 6-ounce boneless duck breast halves, skin and fat trimmed to size of breast
Coarse kosher salt
Ground coriander
Fresh pomegranate seeds (Trader Joe’s sells them packaged)

For sauce:
Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, swirling pan occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes (watch closely). Add juice, broth, and  chiles to the pan. Boil until sauce is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Puree in tightly covered blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Whisk in adobo sauce, vinegar, and cumin. Season to taste with generous amount of coarse salt and pepper. The sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat before using.

For duck:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Score skin of duck (don’t cut into flesh) with 5 cuts in 1 direction; repeat in opposite direction, making diamond pattern. Sprinkle duck all over with coarse salt, pepper, and ground coriander. Place 2 large ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat. Add duck, skin side down, to skillets, dividing equally. Cook duck until skin is crisp and deep brown, about 7 minutes. Turn duck over; cook 1 minute. Pour off fat. Transfer skillets to oven. Roast duck until cooked to medium rare, about 5 minutes.

Transfer duck to cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice each breast crosswise on slight diagonal. Arrange slices on plates. Spoon sauce over. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

* Available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Latin markets.

** Dried, smoked jalapeños in a spicy tomato sauce called adobo; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Latin markets.

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1 Response to “Roasted Duck Breasts with Pomegranate-Chile Sauce”


  1. 1 Theo
    March 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Oh, man. You would have to post this at 11:30 p.m. Now I’m jonesing for duck. And I love pomegranate. I wonder if it’s possible to do something along these lines with an actual pomegranate. Probably too messy…


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