Spice-Rubbed Duck Breasts 4.000
Dec 29, 2004

Here, the skin and underlying fat are removed from the duck breast before cooking. This allows the intriguing, though mild, spice rub to impart flavor to both sides of the meat. The duck breasts are also pounded to a uniform thickness to ensure quick, even cooking. Serve alongside rice and haricots verts.

Servings: 4
  • 2 (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) boneless duck breast halves, preferably Moulard
  • 4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (may substitute melted duck fat)
  • 2 navel or blood oranges, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (optional)


Hold the meat of the duck breast half with one hand and, using a paper towel, grab the skin and attached fat in the other hand and remove it. Reserve for another use or discard.

Trim any silver membrane from the meat. Place the duck flat on the work surface and, using a knife held parallel to the surface, halve each piece of duck horizontally to make 4 thin pieces, or paillards. Place each piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet, flatten evenly to about 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, ginger, curry and cinnamon. Sprinkle each side of each duck paillard with about 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mixture, lightly brush with some oil and rub to coat the duck evenly. You will not use all of the spice mixture.

Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook the duck, turning once, until it has reached the desired degree of doneness, 3 to 4 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and set aside.

Meanwhile, if desired, lightly brush each side of each orange slice with oil and sprinkle with some of the remaining spice mixture. Grill the orange slices, turning once, just until warmed through, about 1 minute total.

Slice the duck paillards and fan them on individual plates. Serve alongside the orange slices, if desired.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe in the September 2004 issue of Gourmet magazine.

Tested by Renee Schettler.

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