Sautéed Duck Breasts with Green Olives and Sweet Vermouth

Rozanne Gold

Adapted from Recipes 1-2-3 (Penguin, 1996)

Although Rozanne Gold writes that this recipe is “duck soup,” she nonetheless provides important lessons in cooking duck. Try a fruity, crisp American Pinot Noir from Oregon or Washington with the dish.


  • 2 duck breast halves, bones removed
  • 1/4 cup sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 cup French Picholine or Spanish green olives
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Score the skin of the duck breasts by making several slashes in the skin with a very sharp knife. Season the duck breasts with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate for several hours.

Put the duck breasts, skin side down, in a cold, large nonstick skillet and cook slowly over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Be careful not to burn the meat by adjusting the heat as this process may take some time. Pour the fat off. Turn the duck breasts over to the meaty side and continue to cook 5 to 6 minutes. Preheat the broiler.

Add 1/4 cup of the reserved duck stock from the first recipe, the vermouth, and the olives to the pan. Increase the heat and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the duck to a shallow baking pan or a heavy-gauge pie tin and place under the broiler to crisp the skin.

Reduce the juices in the pan until thickened to a sauce consistency. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Place the duck breasts on a platter and pour the sauce and olives over the duck.


2 servings