What is the Best Way to Grill Duck Breast?

Are you afraid to grill duck breast? Never fear, we have an easy method. This recipe includes lavender beets and pickled blackberries, making it perfect for summer entertaining. No grill? No worries, you can easily adapt this to the traditional pan-searing technique. Read on and learn how to make this easy and beautiful dish.

Historical food blogger Deana Sidney used our Moulard Duck Breasts for this recipe, based in part on a duck dish served at the Savoy in London with lavender and blackberries. It’s easy to make and includes a delightful blackberry puree. Rendering some of the fat before the duck breast hits the grill helps to prevent flareups and gives you a bit of duck fat to enjoy in other recipes.

How to Grill Duck Breast

Score the skin side, taking care not to cut all the way through the fat.

Rub duck breast all over with a little honey, then sprinkle with crushed salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, Szechwan peppercorns, and lavender. Make sure you get the spices in all the nooks and crannies.

Sear skin side down in a hot cast-iron skillet for 5 – 6 minutes to render out some of the lovely duck fat then put the duck breast on a platter and cover. Save rendered duck fat for another purpose.

Let duck breast rest for a few hours. You can do this on the counter at room temperature if you are grilling that day, or refrigerate it and grill the next day. Always bring meat to room temperature before cooking.

Deana Grilled Duck Breast 1
Duck breasts after pan searing.

Heat your grill. Start the duck breast skin side down for 3-5 minutes.

Watch carefully and be mindful of the fat burning. Duck fat flareups can burn the skin!

The heat of your fire will determine the length of time you need to leave the breasts on the grill, as well as your preferred doneness.

Deana Grilled Duck Breast 2

Turn and grill the meat side for 3 – 5 minutes over indirect heat, off to the side of the flames. Duck breast is best left rare to medium-rare.

Deana Grilled Duck Breast 3

Remove from the grill and allow to sit for 5 minutes. One breast should serve two people.

Slice and serve with beets, pickled blackberries, and blackberry sauce.

If you don’t have a grill, sauté skin side down for 6 min, then flip for 1 minute, then put in 400º oven, fat side down for 6 minutes for rare.

Deana Grilled Duck Breast 4
Serve with pickled blackberries, shallots and lavender beets with the blackberry sauce on the side.

Pickled Blackberries

(based on a Food and Wine recipe)

4 peppercorns
2 allspice berries
½ inch piece of ginger
1 bay leaf
1 c red wine vinegar
3 T sugar
1 ½ T salt
1 shallot sliced thinly
1 sprig thyme
1 container blackberries

Crush spices in a mortar. Add all ingredients but the blackberries to a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Cool and add the blackberries and refrigerate for at a few days.

Lavender Beets

1 bunch smallish beets
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs  lavender
1 Tbs hazelnut oil (optional)
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400º. Remove the greens and long tails from the beets. Put them in foil with another piece of foil beneath. Roast for 50min for small beets to 1:30 for very large ones – you can check them with a knife – baby beets might be even less.

Let cook in the foil for a while then slip the skins off when they are cool enough to handle. Cut them into smaller pieces if large and toss with honey and the rest and set aside – can be served warm or at room temperature

Blackberry Sauce

1 package frozen blackberries
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp lavender
1 Tbs cassis (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook the blackberries until sugar is dissolved and berries are softened. Put through a foodmill or strainer to get rid of the seeds and store at room temperature or put in the fridge if made a day ahead. You might want to double the recipe – it’s very good on ice cream or even other berries.

Shop dartagnan.com for duck breast. For more information about cooking duck breast, check our previous blog post.


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