It’s starting to feel properly wintery around these parts with Christmas only a month away. This time of year always makes me feel a bit topsy-turvy as no matter how long I have lived away from New Zealand and Australia, somehow I always expect Christmas to mean summer! Nevermind, the cool weather is the ideal time for delicious rich and flavoursome food, like today’s recipe Seared Duck with Pomegranate.
Pomegranates are one of my favourite fruits and such a bright splash of colour in the winter months. When I was living in Cyprus and first saw them growing I was amazed by how such spindly little plants could support such huge, heavy fruit. The tart, tanginess of pomegranate is the perfect foil for the richness of duck breast, and the beautiful jewel-like seeds add a pop of colour and flavour to couscous.
A lot of people are afraid of cooking duck breasts, but the technique is actually very simple. The skin is scored to reveal the layer of fat underneath, then the duck breasts are gently fried, skin-side down to render out the fat. A great restaurant trick is to finish the duck breasts off in the oven, where they will cook to perfection. Sliced and served with fluffy couscous and a tangy sweet-sour sauce this is a great date night meal but can be served at a dinner party (remember those?) too.
Duck breast is considered red meat which means it can be cooked medium-rare. I’ve included timings in the recipe for both medium-rare and well done. A quick note, don’t throw away the rendered duck fat! It makes the most delicious roast potatoes. xJ
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 2 duck breasts, 250g ea.
- 125ml fresh pomegranate juice
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 200ml chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp butter
- sea salt and black pepper
- 200g couscous
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ca. 500ml vegetable stock, boiling
- seeds of ½ a pomegranate
- small bunch fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp pistachios
- Take the duck breasts out of the refrigerator, pat dry and use a small sharp knife to score the skin in a criss-cross pattern. Season well with sea salt and black pepper then set aside. For best results take the duck out of the refrigerator half an hour before you plan to cook. Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4.
- In a small saucepan stir together the pomegranate juice and honey, bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Stir through the chicken stock and vinegar, mix the cornstarch with a little cold water then pour it into the sauce, cooking until the sauce thickens slightly. Season generously with salt and pepper, stir through the butter until melted, then remove from the heat and keep warm.
- To cook the duck, place the breasts skin-side down in a cold frying pan. Heat gently for 15 minutes without moving, until the skin is crisp and golden and the duck fat has rendered. Place the duck breasts skin side up in a baking dish and roast in the preheated oven for 6—7 minutes for medium-rare, or 10-12 minutes to cook through. Pour the fat into a small jar or dish and keep for roasting potatoes.
- While the duck is in the oven, prepare the couscous. Place the couscous in a saucepan, stir through the olive oil, then pour over the boiling stock. Cover and heat very gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- When the duck has cooked, remove from the oven, cover loosely with tin foil and rest for 10 minutes.
- To serve, fluff the couscous with a fork then spread over a serving platter. Top with the pomegranate seeds, fresh parsley and pistachios, then slice the duck thinly and place on top. Serve immediately with the hot pomegranate sauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 962Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 358mgSodium: 1302mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 5gSugar: 30gProtein: 71g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make Seared Duck with Pomegranate in advance?
You can make the sauce and couscous in advance, but the duck is best cooked when you are ready to eat. Leftovers are lovely cold the next day though!
I can’t get any pomegranate! Can I still make this dish?
Yes, this dish is a variation on the classic Duck a l’Orange, which means you can replace the pomegranate juice with orange juice if you like. If you can’t get pomegranate seeds then finely chopped dried apricots or cranberries are tasty in the couscous too.
Can I use frozen duck breast to cook this dish?
Yes, defrost the duck breasts in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure they have time to come up to temperature before cooking.