Pato con Peras

Catalan-Style Duck with Pears and Almonds

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

This Catalan classic is usually made with goose. Some versions call for sherry instead of brandy, some use tomatoes, and others use pine nuts in the picada (the Catalan “final touch”) instead of almonds. I have added a little lemon to the pear poaching syrup and used some of the syrup with the sliced pears in the sauce, rather than using the pears strictly as garnish as in the original recipe.



  • cups sugar
  • cups water
  • 1 small cinnamon stick, broken in pieces
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 thick slices lemon
  • 2 French butter, D’anjou, or other pears for poaching, peeled, cored, and halved
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 ducks, about 5 pounds each, necks and wing tips removed, excess fat removed, and rendered if desired (see Note 3)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Poach the pears: Combine the sugar, water, spices, and lemon slices in a saucepan. Boil 5 minutes. Add the pear halves, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pears are translucent and cooked through but not mushy, about 25 minutes. Remove the pears from the syrup with a slotted spoon; let cool. Reserve about ¼ cup syrup. Cut the cooled pear halves lengthwise into 4 thick slices; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Make a paste with a mortar and pestle of the garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and brandy; rub it into the cavity of each duck. Place the ducks on racks in shallow roasting pans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper inside and out and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Heat the butter in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute. Add the brandy and simmer 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and almonds and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons reserved pear syrup; taste and add more if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the duck into quarters (or eighths if you prefer) and warm in a 400°F oven about 5 minutes. Heat the sauce to simmering over medium heat, add the pear slices, and simmer until heated through. Arrange 2 duck quarters on each of 4 serving plates and spoon the sauce and pears over top. Serve with roasted potatoes and sautéed spinach with pine nuts and raisins.