Magret de Canard aux Baies de Cassis

Duck breast with blackcurrants

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


    • Ready in

      45 min

Appears in

The Cooking of Burgundy and the Lyonnais

The Cooking of Burgundy and the Lyonnais

By Anne Willan

Published 1987

  • About

The nouvelle cuisine custom of serving duck breast (magret) on its own rather like a steak has proved so popular that boned breasts are now routinely available in French supermarkets. Magrets are easy to prepare at home from a whole duck but then the legs are left. Try using them in Ragoût de Cuisses de Canard aux Navets (Stew of duck legs with turnips).


  • 4 duck breasts, or two small whole ducks
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter


To remove the breasts if you are using whole ducks, first lift the neck skin, and, with a sharp knife, cut out the wishbone. Remove the legs by cutting through the skin between the leg and breast, grasp the leg and, with a sharp twist, break the joint. Cut through it to sever it. Remove each breast by sliding the knife between meat and bone. Leave the skin on the two breasts or remove it, as you prefer.

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan. Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper and fry them skin-side down over a brisk heat for about 5 minutes until they are thoroughly browned. Turn them and brown the other side, allowing 8 minutes total cooking for rare meat or longer if you prefer it well done. If the skin has been discarded, shorten the cooking time by about 2 minutes. Remove the breasts and keep them warm.

Pick over fresh blackcurrants or if you are using canned or frozen berries, drain them. Put the blackcurrants in a pan with the cassis liqueur and let them simmer for 1–2 minutes. Fresh blackcurrants will take 10 minutes or more to cook until tender and you may need to add a little water. The blackcurrants and uncooked duck breasts can be kept for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

To make the sauce, discard all but a half tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the shallots and cook them until they are soft. Add the wine and vinegar and boil until they have reduced to about three tablespoons. Add the stock and bring it to the boil. Re-mix the arrowroot paste if it has separated and whisk in enough to make the boiling sauce lightly coat a spoon. Stir in the blackcurrants and taste for seasoning. Take the sauce from the heat and add the 40 g (1½ oz) butter, swirling the pan so it melts creamily. Keep the sauce warm.

Cut each magret in 4–5 thin diagonal slices and arrange them in a fan on individual plates. Spoon over the sauce and decorate each plate with watercress. Serve the duck with Crapiaux Morvandiaux (Grated potato pancakes) or Soufflé de Marrons (Chestnut soufflé).