2 duck breasts, at room temperature
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
4 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped, divided
2 pats / 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, cold, divided
½ medium sized shallot, finely diced
¼ cup dried cranberries (or cherries)
½ cup red wine
½ cup chicken stock, low sodium preferred
Bring duck breasts to room temperature on paper towel to dry them completely.
Score the fat side of the breasts just beneath the skin layer but not going into the meat.
In a flat bowl, combine 1 teaspoon each of pepper and salt and 2 teaspoons of thyme.
Press the fat side of the duck breasts into the thyme. Shake off any excess.
In a cold, well-seasoned pan, place the duck breasts in fat side down.
Start to heat the pan to a medium high setting to slowly render the fat from the skin side.
Cook skin side down for ~5 – 7 minutes until the skin is medium brown and crispy.
Flip breasts and continue to cook for 5 – 7 additional minutes at medium. You may need to turn the breast on their side as well to sear the edges.
(If they are thick breasts, then they may need to go into a 400F oven for 3 – 5 additional minutes to achieve your desired level of cooking. Duck breast is best served rare to medium rare ideally.)
Allow to rest fat side up for at least 5 minutes. Do not cover (the seam will soften the gorgeous crispy skin.
Cut the breasts on the diagonal with a very sharp knife to serve.
Meanwhile, in a medium sized saucepan, prepare the sauce.
Over medium-high heat, melt 1 pat of butter with remaining salt and pepper.
Once the butter is melted and warm, add in remaining thyme and shallots. Cook until the shallots are soft and the thyme is fragrant, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Add in dried cranberries. Continue to cook for 1 minute.
Add in red wine and chicken stock. Reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
Strain the sauce and return to the saucepan over very low heat. Discard shallots, cranberries, thyme.
Ensure remining butter is very cold. Cut remaining butter into cubes. Add cold butter to sauce. Keep the sauce moving until the butter has melted. The sauce should be shiny and thicker.
Spoon sauce on plate, place sliced duck breast skin side up on top.
Garnish with additional fresh thyme and/or additional fresh cracked black pepper.
Delicious with potatoes dauphinoise, or rice, or lentils, or as a side to a salad. (use the hot sauce on raw spinach greens to wilt them and add in some goat cheese .. YUM!)