Pan-Seared Duck Breast

Marc Murphy

Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy (Landmarc and Ditch Plains), New York City

"A lot of people tell me that they’re too intimidated to cook duck and only order it at restaurants. This is really too bad, as duck is pretty easy to make, and thanks to a layer of fat, the meat is flavorful and moist. This is a straightforward and simple recipe. It gets a little decadent at the end with foie gras, but you can manage without it just fine. Just don’t skip the demi-glace—it’s the secret ingredient to this dish. These days, many stores carry prepared demi-glace that you just have to loosen up with a little water, so no need to make your own." —Marc Murphy


  • 2 duck breasts (about 1 pound each)
  • 1/4 cup Armagnac or brandy
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup ruby port
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 cup store-bought demi-glace
  • 2 cups raw, 1/2-inch-dice foie gras (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350°F; position the rack in the middle of the oven.

Score the skin of the duck breast, making sure you do not cut all the way through to the meat. Pat the duck dry with paper towels and let it come to room temperature while you prepare the glaze.

In a small bowl, combine the Armagnac and dried cherries and set aside to soak. In a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until simmering. Add the shallots, season with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red port and wine and raise the heat to high. Cook until it has reduced by half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the stock and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over low heat. Season the duck with salt and pepper. Place it in the pan, skin-side-down, and cook until the fat has rendered out and the skin is deep brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the duck over so it is skin-side-up and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until medium–rare, 8 to 10 minutes.

While the duck is baking, add the demi-glace to the pan with the reduced wine mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the soaked cherries and any Armagnac left in the bowl, reduce the heat to medium, and cook slowly until the sauce has thickened and the cherries are soft, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the foie gras, if using, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the duck to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Halve the breasts on an angle, and serve half a breast per plate with the reserved glaze.


4 servings