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Old 02-14-2012, 11:06 PM   #1
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Help cooking duck breast?

I have made dozens of attempts at cooking duck breast.... with horrific results. I've read through the techiniques from the CIA's professional chef, watched countless videos, and searched several web recipies. yet cant seem to get it right.

looking for a medium rare duck breast with that crispy skin.

popular opinion is to put a cold, scored, seasoned duck breast skin side down in a dry pan over medium-low heat. after 3-5 minutes, it should render and crisp up, flip, 30 seconds, then in a 200 degree oven skin side down for 4=6 minutes.

simple enough right?

i get perfectly medium rare duck with rubber skin every time. not sure what im doing wrong.

ive tried to be more patient. with my stove on a tad below medium heat, i left the breast untouched skins side down for close to 15 minutes. plenty of fat poured out, browned a bit, but still rubber.

next attempt, same thing, only this time i used a grill press to weigh the breast down. same result. perfect meat, horrible rubbery skin.

im using an eletric stove. ive tried both stainless steel and a non stick pan. neither made a difference. i tried breasts off a whole duck i butchered and also tried the prepackaged duck breasts. no luck either way.

What am i doing wrong? can someone give me an extremely detailed step by step process? i watch some of these videos, and try and follow but just doesnt seem to work







duck is my favorite... i order it out all the time. ive mastered the sauces i love to have with it, and the side dishes. but without that crispy skin, and the fat rendered, its just not the same.

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Old 02-14-2012, 11:19 PM   #2
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When I cook duck breasts, I score the flesh in a half inch cross-hatch pattern. I cut all the way through the skin and fat down to the flesh.

I cook the duck over a moderate heat until fat rendering has slowed or stopped and the skin is a rich golden brown. This takes closer to 15 minutes than 3-5 minutes. I pour off the fat as it renders.

Then pan and all it goes into a preheated 400 F oven for 5-7 minutes. I let it rest for five minutes before eating. Times will vary based on breast size.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:08 AM   #3
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I have just one idea: your duck should be at room temperature before cooking, not refrigerator cold. If that's not helpful then I have no idea.

I've only roasted ducks, whole or halved, or prepared them as pieces in coconut milk a la Thai style. I never did a pan seared duck.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:32 AM   #4
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You have to get all the fat rendered from the skin. Drain it as you go along in the pan as that helps keep the rendering going. If all the fat doesn't render you will have squishy skin.

3-5 minutes likely won't render all the fat.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:25 AM   #5
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AM,GG and FZ are correct.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:42 AM   #6
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I used to have the same problem. But that's because I believed all those instructions. Then I learned from a pro a totally different approach.

Score the skin in a diamond patter. Breasts should be as near room temperature as possible. Then, working over low heat, put the breasts in a pan, skin side down. As the fat renders, remove it. It takes a good half-hour, this way, for all the fat to render. But you get the crispiest skin you've ever had.

Finish cooking by flipping the breasts and popping the whole pan in the oven.

BTW, duck fat is bad for you. Best bet is to package it in a well insulated container and fedex it to me for proper disposal.
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HistoricFoodie View Post
I used to have the same problem. But that's because I believed all those instructions. Then I learned from a pro a totally different approach.

Score the skin in a diamond patter. Breasts should be as near room temperature as possible. Then, working over low heat, put the breasts in a pan, skin side down. As the fat renders, remove it. It takes a good half-hour, this way, for all the fat to render. But you get the crispiest skin you've ever had.

Finish cooking by flipping the breasts and popping the whole pan in the oven.

BTW, duck fat is bad for you. Best bet is to package it in a well insulated container and fedex it to me for proper disposal.
I happen to know that I have the proper Biohazard receptacles, approved by OSHA and the FDA for disposal of duck fat. Don't listen to H.Foodie, it needs to be shipped to me.
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:36 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone for all the responses, to be clear, he was my step by step process:

- bring duck breast to room temprature(i also tired it cold in previous attempts)
- scored(tried straight lines and diamond pattern
- season both sides
- in try pan, on medium low heat("4" out of "9" on my electric stovetop)
- left it there 12-15 minutes. )alot of fat came out, but not nearly enough, i assume it should be at least a panful.)
- flipped, jacked up heat, cooked non skin side
- popped in 200 degree oven for 5 minutes

this left me with a perfectly cooked duck with horribly rubbery skin. but i will attempt again tonite.
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HistoricFoodie View Post
Then, working over low heat, put the breasts in a pan, skin side down.
1) when you say low, how low? for example on a scale of 1 to 9 on my stove, what would you suggest. normally id just kind of wing it, but ive had trouble, so im asking
2) what kind of pan would you reccomend? stainless? nonstick?

3) would you suggest using a grill press on top to keep pressure, or no?
Quote:
As the fat renders, remove it. It takes a good half-hour, this way, for all the fat to render. But you get the crispiest skin you've ever had.
how much fat should be in the pan when i pour off the fat? should the duck be in a mostly empty pan at all times?

Quote:
BTW, duck fat is bad for you. Best bet is to package it in a well insulated container and fedex it to me for proper disposal.
nice try... and if duck fat is bad for you, i dont want to be good
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:49 AM   #10
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200F will not crisp the skin, especially not for 5 minutes. That will be a nice tropical spot for them after the fridge, but that is about it. You need high heat to finish.

It is easier to use a wicked sharp knife and have the breasts cold, just out of the fridge when you do your scoring. You will notice the difference from when you start and when you are done as the breasts warm up.
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