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Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Blueberry-Port Sauce

Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Blueberry-Port Sauce

I know—at first it might seem like an extravagance to cook duck for one. But I really live by it: it's a staple in my weekly line-up not only because it's fairly cheap for a single serving breast, but also and especially because it couldn't be easier to make. Now, I can understand the fear of those who have never cooked duck—or hell, of those who have never even eaten duck. It's the kind of meat you order at a fancy French restaurant or gawk at in a magazine. But I'm telling you: it's worth trying if only to add something new to your after-work repertoire. And as you'll see with this recipe, it doesn't take much at all. If anything, pan-seared duck breast almost asks of your negligence, as the fat needs time to render in the pan, untouched, left to do what it does best.

1 boneless duck breast, skin-on
Salt and pepper
Herbes de Provence
1/2 pint blueberries
1/4 cup ruby port*
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

*Feel free to use leftover red wine, but if so, add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to match the fortified sugars of port.

This couldn't be easier. Season the duck breast: skin side with just salt and meat side with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Starting from a cold skillet, place the skin side down and turn the heat on to a gentle low. Start the timer: let the fat slowly render (or melt down) for a good 10–12 minutes, depending on the size of the breast. Wash dishes, do laundry, take a quick shower. Come back and flip the duck over onto its meat side and sear for a mere 60 seconds. Set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the blueberry-port sauce in the same pan: Drain off the fat and toss in the berries, sautéing for a few seconds. Add the port and let it bubble up and reduce by about half. Strain the sauce, pushing the blueberry pulp through the sieve—this step is worth doing, as the pulp will thicken the sauce further. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar; this step is crucial.

To plate, set down your sauce first. Carve the duck into four or so pieces and place over the sauce, skin side up. Eat with a side salad or a bowl of white rice. Enjoy your Wednesday night dinner, which took you, what, 15 minutes?

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