Cherries are back. You may have noticed them in your grocery store’s produce section, looking plump, ripe and succulent. You may have heard them seductively saying “Eat me! I’m in season!” Hopefully you listened to them. Because not only are they delicious in their natural state, they make for an amazing port sauce. And if you didn’t have an excuse to make duck before, well now you do. Nothing compliments perfectly seared duck breasts better than a fresh cherry and port sauce reduction. And don’t be fooled by the fancy names. This is one of those dinners that sounds and tastes so special, and is actually quite easy and fun to make.
Seared Duck Breasts with Cherry Port Sauce and Parmesan Risotto
Yields 2 Servings
- 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 small yellow onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 6-ounce duck breast halves
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 15 halved pitted fresh bing cherries
- 1/4 cup tawny Port
- 1 tablespoon honey
First, begin making the risotto. Bring 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth to boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion; sauté until very tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium-low. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add 1 cup warm broth. Boil gently until broth is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add another 1 cup broth; continue stirring until broth is absorbed. Add remaining warm broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place duck breast halves in a large plastic freezer bag. Pound the breasts lightly to even thickness. Remove the duck from the plastic bag and discard the bag. Using sharp knife, score skin crosswise to create a diamond pattern. Be careful to not cut into the flesh.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck with salt and pepper. Add duck, skin side down, to skillet and cook until skin is browned and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn duck breasts over, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 4 to 8 minutes. Transfer to work surface, tent with aluminum foil to keep warm, and let rest while you make the sauce.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add shallot to skillet and stir over medium heat 30 seconds. Add broth, cherries, Port, and honey. Increase heat to high and boil until sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring often, about 6 minutes.Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice the duck breasts crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Serve the slices fanned out in row, skin side up, topped with sauce.