Grilled Duck Breast w/ Zinfandel – Dried Cherry Sauce

photo 3-199

I absolutely love duck and feel lucky that it is so readily available in Belgian markets. It doesn’t matter how it is cooked, I enjoy it all. Because duck is such a rich meat, it is perfect to pair with bold and hearty flavors. This recipe, adapted from Williams Sonoma, pairs spices with sweet cherries to create the ultimate early fall dinner. When paired with a starch, I like Israeli couscous, and a green vegetable, this dish can be either a casual weeknight meal or a more formal dinner.

The duck breasts are massaged with a spice rub of ginger, cinnamon, cloves before being grilled and covered in a cherry wine sauce. I used some of my own dried cherries and dipped into my stash of imported California red wine for my sauce. (Yes, when you live in Europe, wine from California is considered to be an import). As Glenn said, just the smell of the smoke coming off of the grill is good enough to eat. But wait to eat the duck; it is truly delicious.


For the spice rub:

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground white pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

4 skin-on boneless duck breasts

For the sauce:

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup Zinfandel or other full bodied dry red wine

1/2 cup dried sweet cherries

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark corn syrup

1 tablespoon cornstarch disolved in 2 tablespoons wine

  • Preheat a grill for direct grilling over medium heat.
  • To make the spice rub, mix together the ginger, white pepper, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle the spice rub onto both sides of the duck breasts then using your fingers, massage it into the meat.
  • To make the sauce, combine the stock, wine, cherries, soy sauce and corn syrup in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook over high heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by half.
  • Combine the cornstarch and wine in a small bowl.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pan to the heat and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Set the sauce aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Place the duck breasts, skin side down on the center of the grill. Cover and cook until the duck is well browned on the bottom, about 7 to 10 minutes. Check the grill occasionally for flare ups and move the duck to a cooler part of the grill if necessary.
  • Turn the duck and cook an additional 5 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat is 135 to 140 degrees, or medium-rare to medium. (Cook longer if you prefer your meat more well done).
  • Remove the duck from the grill, transfer to a platter and let rest, tented with foil, for 5 minutes.
  • Slice on the diagonal and top with the cherry sauce.

Serves 4


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