Duck Breasts with Peaches or Other Fruits

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

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Because duck breasts are best sautéed rare to medium rare, they release little liquid with which to make a sauce. By braising duck thighs, however, you’ll have a rich and savory braising liquid that can be used to deglaze the pan used for sautéing the duck breasts. If you don’t have braising liquid, it’s also possible to make a duck stock with the duck carcass. (A good trick is to make duck stock with half the duck carcasses and then make a jus by roasting the remaining carcasses and deglazing the pan with the duck stock.)

The usual approach when making fruit sauces is to put the fruit in hot reduced demi-glace just long enough for the fruit to release liquid of its own. The fruit is then taken out of the sauce; the sauce reduced to compensate for the liquid released by the fruit and to concentrate its flavor; and the fruit returned to the sauce just before serving. Fruit sauces almost always benefit from a sweet-and-sour element provided by a gastrique or, if you’re in a hurry, just a little sugar and vinegar.


pekin duck breasts or moulard duck breasts 6 or 3 6 or 3
duck stock or duck braising liquid 1 cup 250 ml
peaches, peeled, pitted, cut into wedges 3 3
glace de viande (optional) 2 tbsp 30 ml
gastrique (see Sweet-and-Sour Sauces: Gastrique; or to taste) 2 tbsp 30 ml
butter oz 45 g
salt and pepper to taste to taste


  1. Make a series of about 20 slashes into the duck skin, penetrating as deeply into the skin as possible without going all the way to the meat. Keep the knife leaning on an angle so you’re cutting into the skin sideways, which allows for a deeper cut without cutting through. Make a second series of slashes at a 90-degree angle from the first.
  2. Put the duck breasts, skin side down, in a cold sauté pan. Cook over low-to-medium heat for about 12 minutes for Pekin duck breasts and about 20 minutes for moulard breasts. Turn the breasts over and cook them on the meat side for about 2 minutes over high heat. Take them out of the pan and keep warm while preparing the sauce.
  3. Pour the fat out of the pan and deglaze the pan with the stock or braising liquid. Add the peaches and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the peaches with a skimmer, and reserve. Boil down the sauce base, add the glace de viande, if using, and when the sauce has a lightly syrupy consistency, add gastrique to taste. Whisk in the butter, reheat the peaches in the sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Slice the duck breasts and spoon over the sauce.