Duck Breasts w/ Cider-Mustard Reduction


Yes, more duck. Personally I love it and since it is so readily available it would be a shame not to cook it. Thus, duck breasts have become a regular protein on our dinner table. (If you aren’t a fan of duck, pork tenderloin is a perfect substitute for this dish). For me, not only is duck flavorful and quick to cook, the duck fat that is a byproduct of searing the meat opens up the possibility of making a variety of other delicious dishes.

This dish highlights some of my favorite “local” products. Of course there is the afore mentioned duck which but the sauce is inspired by two of my other favorite local specialities. Hard apple cider serves as the base of the reduction. I prefer dry cider from the Normandy region of France but any dry version will work well. While readily available Dijon mustard will add the punch you are looking for, I’m now a convert to Tierenteyn mustard which comes from Ghent. (Unfortunately, you must go to the shop to buy it yourself since they don’t ship. If you can’t get your hands on it, your favorite Dijon variety will produce the same results). To complete the winter comfort food theme, I like to serve the duck alongside spaetzel and garlic sauteed kale. I guarantee there won’t be any leftovers.


2 boneless duck breasts, about 1 pound each

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup hard apple cider

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon Tierenteyn or Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

For the duck:

  • Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a grid pattern, taking care to not cut through the meat.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the duck breast with the salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • When ready to proceed, position an over rack to 3 inches below the heating elements and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place the duck breasts skin side down in a cold cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-low and render the fat until the skin is crispy and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain off the fat and reserve for another use.
  • Move the skillet to the oven and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare. (Cook longer if you prefer your meat more well done).
  • Flip the breasts and cook for an additional minute. To test for doneness, press the breasts, they will give slightly then bounce back.
  • Remove the duck from the oven, allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes then slice across the diagonal.

For the sauce:

  • Place the cider in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, cream, mustard and thyme. Cook for an additional minute until the sauce has heated through.
  • Serve over the sliced duck.

Serves 4

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