How to Sear Duck Breast

In case you get stuck on a deserted island

Searing duck breast is an easy and mostly hands-off process.

Life is full of surprises. One you probably won't see coming is a scenario in which you get stuck on an island full of ducks with a hunting rifle, a knife, and a sauté pan. Or, perhaps we should say, you did see it coming, since you were apparently so well prepared.

We're going to assume that you've managed to catch the duck, skin it, and carve off some nice breasts. Somehow, a stove has also happened to fall out of the sky. Or, perhaps you're just really good at regulating a campfire.

Click here to see the Glazed Duck Breast Recipe.

It's not hard. Here's how to do it.

The first step is to score the fat on the breasts. This will help some of the ample layer of fat underneath the skin render out, which can be used for cooking something else later on. Take a sharp knife and just lightly brush it against the skin in a crisscross pattern. Avoid cutting too deep since this will dry out the breast as it cooks. If red muscle is visible, the cut is too deep.

Next, get the pan really hot. Heat on high for at least five minutes. Add the breast, skin side down, without any oil in the pan. (There will be plenty of fat rendering out in a bit.) Sear without moving until the skin is browned.

Reduce the heat to its lowest setting without dying out. This is when the fat will start rendering out. It's a slow process, so be patient. It could take up to half an hour depending on the stove. Periodically pour off the fat as it renders out. Do this carefully — place a few fingers on top of the breast to hold it in place as you use your other hand to slowly tilt the pan just enough to pour out the fat into a heatproof container.

Click here to see Eric Ripert's Spice-Crusted Duck Breast Recipe.

Continue cooking until just a thin layer remains underneath the skin and the skin is crisp. Just how thin is up to you — just keep in mind, as delicious as duck fat is, most people don't really want to chew on a huge chunk of it.

Flip, increase the heat to high, and cook the other side just briefly or until the desired doneness is reached.

That's it — another vital survival skill learned for one of life's absurd situations. However, it's more likely that you'll get stuck on a deserted island full of pineapples.


Click here to see How to Cut a Pineapple.

Click here to see Anita Lo's Duck Breast with Foie Gras-Maitake Bread Pudding Recipe.