Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Parmesan Risotto and Green Beans

food-7631So this is the first post where I am actually posting three recipes, designed to be incorporated into one complete entree. Each component of the dish is relatively simple on its own, but when they were incorporated together, it made for a delicious, satisfying meal.

Duck is a wonderful meat, one I don’t enjoy often enough. It has a richness akin to red meat, but a texture more like the dark meat of a turkey or chicken. But the taste is definitely satisfying, and doesn’t need much “dressing up”, in my opinion. A bit of salt and pepper did quite nicely. And as for the duck fat? Well, I happened to have a whole duck I broke down to use in this (and other, future) recipes. I removed all of the fat and skin and over medium-low heat, rendered the duck fat, until the skins were crispy and the fat was liquid in the pan. Then I cooled and strained the duck fat for future use. (If you decide to do this, you can keep the duck fat for weeks in your refrigerator.) Sinful, but delicious. And that skin? If you let it sit on a paper towel, sprinkle a little salt, it is quite tasty. That’s definitely not a low-fat snack!

Speaking of breaking down a whole duck, that was quite an experience for the kids. They have never seen a whole duck (well, not one that is no longer swimming in a pond, anyway). They all had to come stare the duck’s head, and gawk at how I had to use the cleaver to remove the head and neck. Our middle son begged to touch the head and webbed feet. (obviously, he’s not the squeamish one of the bunch). Of course, once the drama of that was all over, the crowd dissipated and left me to do the rest of the dirty work. Where did the rest of the duck go? Well, I froze the wings, back, and neck to use for broth in the future, roasted the legs and thighs in order to use the meat in a salad, and the fat, skin, and breasts you already read about.

Risotto is a side dish that is not really time-consuming or difficult, (it doesn’t take any more time than other rice dishes to cook), but it takes an active 20-30 minutes of stirring, so you can’t just leave it to cook while you tend to other things. But its creaminess is well worth the effort, so I try to indulge once in a while!

And I love fresh green beans. Steamed with a little butter, and they’re heavenly. Sometimes, you don’t have to fuss to make a great vegetable dish. When you use fresh, the vegetables really shine without much added to them.

Of course, feel free to substitute any meat for the duck, or whatever vegetable you would enjoy.

For the duck:

2 duck breasts, boneless and skinless

Salt and pepper

1 T vegetable oil (or duck fat, if you have it)


Season duck breasts with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat. Add oil or duck fat, and swirl to coat. Add duck breasts to pan and let sear for 2 minutes. Flip breasts, and turn heat down to medium. Let cook for 2-3 more minutes (depending on how thick your breasts are, mine were no thicker than ¾ inch), or until duck is medium. Remove from pan. You don’t want to overcook duck, and once you remove it from the pan, it will continue to cook from the residual heat. You can test it for doneness by either taking a knife and cutting into the thickest part and peeking (it should be faintly pink), using a thermometer (140 degrees is desired), or with experience, you can touch the surface of the meat, and if it is relatively firm, it’s done. Let the breasts rest for 2-3 minutes, and slice.

For the risotto:

2 T olive oil

2 T butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c uncooked Arborio or other risotto rice

½ c white wine

3 c chicken broth, warmed

¼ c parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley, for garnish


Heat a large, shallow saucepan to medium heat and add oil and butter, swirling to melt butter. Once melted, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add rice and stir, cooking for 2 minutes. Add wine and stir to deglaze. Cook until wine is almost evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth. Cook, stirring, until broth is almost evaporated. Add another cup of broth. Continue to cook, stirring often and scraping rice down so that all grains are absorbing the broth, until almost evaporated. Add a bit of the last cup of broth at a time, continuing to cook and stir, until rice is al dente. Once rice is al dente and has absorbed the broth, remove from heat. Add parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnishing with parsley.

For the green beans: 

1 lb fresh green beans, washed and ends snapped

3 T butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Fit a saucepan with a steamer basket, add water to the bottom of the steamer basket, and steam green beans for 3-5 minutes on high, or until the beans are crisp-tender. Drain, and place the saucepan (without steamer basket) back onto the burner on medium heat. Melt the butter in the saucepan, and return the beans to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 more minutes or until the beans are tender but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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