Duck Breasts with Cassis and Raspberries

Posted by    |  January 27, 2010  |  Filed under: Recipes

Based on a recipe from The Food of France, by Maria Villegas & Sarah Randell

I’ve made this several times for small dinner parties (4 to 8 servings).  It is simple but also beautiful, elegant and delicious.  You can converse at the same time you cook, especially if you mix the seasonings and wine/cassis mixture ahead of time (do the cornstarch at the last minute).  Consider serving with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.  The duck is so beautiful and flavorful on the plate that you really want simple sides that don’t compete with it.

Four 6-ounce duck breasts
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons Demerara (raw) sugar

1 cup red wine
½ cup crème de cassis
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
½ pound raspberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted

Cook the breasts

  1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
  2. Score the duck breasts through the skin and fat but not into the meat.  This means to create a large diamond pattern of slashes through the skin and fat.  This will allow the fat to render (melt) and drip through the slashes.
  3. Put the duck breasts in the pan, skin side down.  Turn the pan on to medium-high heat and cook the duck breasts until the skin browns and the fat runs out.  Remove the breasts from the frying pan to an oven-safe baking dish and pour off most of the fat.  Consider saving for another use.  It has wonderful flavor for sautéing other meats or veggies.
  4. Mix together the sea salt, cinnamon and sugar.  Sprinkle it over the skin of the breasts, the press it in with your hands.  Season with black pepper.
  5. Move to oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until done in the center, about 150-degrees for medium-well.

Make the sauce

  1. Mix together the red wine and cassis.
  2. Pour about 1/3 cup of the liquid into another small bowl and mix in the cornstarch or arrowroot, then return this to the rest of the mixture.  Even thought this seems like an unnecessary extra step, this will help dissolve the cornstarch more effectively.
  3. Reheat the pan and pour in the wine & cassis mixture.
  4. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
  5. Add the raspberries and simmer for another minute—just long enough to warm the fruit.
  6. Check for seasoning.


Slice the duck breasts thinly.  Pour a little sauce over the top and serve the rest separately.

Serves four

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