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How To Cook An Amazing Duck Breast Dinner For Two

A budget-friendly, step-by-step plan for a special meal with classic mashed potatoes and roasted carrots.

Emily Fleischaker

Here's what you'll need.

INGREDIENTS

1 duck breast

3 or 4 potatoes, preferably a mix of medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes and Russets

1 bunch of carrots

4 sticks of butter

1/3 cup whole milk

kosher salt

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup beef or vegetable stock

olive oil

option: 1 garlic clove, few sprigs of thyme

THE GAME PLAN

1. Start the potatoes.

2. Start the sauce.

3. Get the carrots in the oven.

4. Star the duck breast.

5. Check the potatoes and check the sauce.

6. Finish the potatoes.

7. Check the carrots.

8. Finish the duck breast.

9. Finish the sauce.

10. EAT!

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Start with the potatoes. Peel them first.

Emily Fleischaker

Set up a station like this so you can peel each potato and put it in water so it doesn't brown after you've peeled it.

Then quarter them. The pieces should all be about the same size.

Emily Fleischaker

So even though you're cutting the Yukon Golds into quarters, you might cut the Russet into more than four pieces so they can be equal in size to the others.

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Put the potato pieces in a large pot and cover them with cold water by about an inch.

Emily Fleischaker

When you boil potatoes, always start with cold water — and don't salt the water.

Bring the water to a boil and let them cook until just tender.

Emily Fleischaker

Once the water has started boiling it will take about 5 to 10 minutes for them to get tender — you can test how tender they are by poking them with a fork or knife, and once it goes through without much resistance, drain the potatoes.

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While the potatoes are boiling, put 1/2 stick of butter and 1/3 cup of milk in a sauce pan and put it on a burner with no heat.

Emily Fleischaker

The butter will melt without any heat, and you can just briefly heat it before you put it in the mashed potatoes later.

Next, make the red wine sauce. Combine 1/2 cup red wine and 1/2 cup of beef or chicken stock in a saucepan.

Emily Fleischaker

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Bring it to a boil and let it reduce by half.

Emily Fleischaker

You can check the amount of liquid in the pan more easily by tipping it.

Emily Fleischaker

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As all that's happening, start the carrots. Preheat the oven to 440ºF. Wash the carrots, then dry them very well.

Emily Fleischaker

If you didn't get pretty multicolored carrots, don't worry. If they aren't small, you might want to cut them into pieces so they are smaller, but no matter what kind of carrot, they all cook the same way.

Emily Fleischaker

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Drizzle the carrots with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, then put in the oven at 400ºF. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you remember to check them.

Emily Fleischaker

They will take 20 to 30 minutes to cook, depending on how large they are. If you like them firmer, take them out when there's still a little bite.

First, "score" the duck breast (one is enough to feed two people) by making shallow crisscross slices on its fatty side.

Macey J. Foronda

This allows the fat to render better as you saute it.

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Be careful not to cut too deeply (don't go all the way to the skin). It should look like this.

Macey J. Foronda

Generously season both sides of the duck breast with kosher salt.

Macey J. Foronda

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Put it on a COLD PAN and put the pan on a low flame.

Macey J. Foronda

Duck breast is different than many other proteins in that you don't want to cook it over high heat. You want to cook it slowly over very low heat to render out and then crisp the fat.

As the breast cooks, fat will start to come out of the breast onto the pan.

Macey J. Foronda

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About two or three times while the breast is cooking, you'll need to drain the fat out of the pan.

Macey J. Foronda

Hold the duck breast firmly against the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon (the person in this photo is using his hand because he is a professional cook and thinks he is cool/is kind of cool), and drain the grease off into a glass jar or something else that won't immediately melt when it comes into contact with hot grease.

Be patient: It will take about 15 minutes until most of the fat has rendered out and the color is right.

Macey J. Foronda

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In the meantime, check the potatoes; if they are tender, drain them. Turn on the heat under your milk/butter to very low.

Emily Fleischaker

Put the potatoes back in the pot and mash them with a potato masher or the back of a fork.

Emily Fleischaker

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Add the milk and butter.

Emily Fleischaker

Keep mashing.

Emily Fleischaker

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Once you like the way the potatoes taste (yes, taste them!), dot the top with butter.

Emily Fleischaker

Put some plastic wrap on top, then put the potatoes on the oven to keep them warm.

Emily Fleischaker

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What's going on with your carrots, are they done?!

Emily Fleischaker

And what's going on with your duck? You should check the color only after it's been on the pan for at least 10 minutes. Keep draining. Don't raise the heat past medium. This is close, but not quite there.

Macey J. Foronda

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This is the perfect color. Once it looks like this, flip it and less it cook on the other side for a minute or two.

Macey J. Foronda

Take the breast out of the pan and turn up the heat to medium-high and put two big hunks of butter in the pan (about 1/3 of a stick).

Macey J. Foronda

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Add two gloves of garlic if you have that (they don't have to be peeled — doesn't matter).

Macey J. Foronda

Throw in some thyme, then add the duck breast and tip the pan so that the breast is bathing in the butter with the garlic and thyme.

Macey J. Foronda

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Spoon some of the butter over the breast.

Macey J. Foronda

Let it stay in the butter for about 2 to 3 minutes over the high heat.

Macey J. Foronda

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After cooking it, the duck should rest for about 5 minutes before you slice it. It's done when the internal temperature is 135ºF. To slice it, put the breast fat-side down.

Macey J. Foronda

Go back to your reduction, whisk 2 Tbsp of butter into it, heat gently (don't boil), and add salt until you like the flavor.

Emily Fleischaker
Macey J. Foronda

Plate everything and eat.

Emily Fleischaker

Need easy dinner ideas?

These meals will make your weeknights way simpler. (And tastier!)

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Need easy dinner ideas?

These meals will make your weeknights way simpler. (And tastier!)

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