Tender roasted duck breast topped with a flavorful pearl onion sauce and diced potatoes makes a delicious gourmet meal, paired with a B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was sent as a courtesy sample; as always, the opinions are entirely my own. Read on for details on the wine pairing, and several cooking tips for the dish. Jump ahead to the Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onion recipe card instructions if you are ready to get cooking!
This recipe for Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onion first came to me in an email introducing me to Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, which is the exclusive caterer for Viansa and B.R. Cohn wineries in Sonoma, California.
Would I like to try a bottle of B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon with the Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onion recipe? Sure! I hadn’t tried making duck breast yet, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to add duck to my cooking repertoire.
I also had a chance to sample a bottle of 2013 Viansa Los Carneros Sonoma Chardonnay ($45, 15% ABV). This bottle was excellent paired with our Asian Tuna Noodle Bowls.
Now, back to the Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onion and Cabernet. The finished dish features succulent duck breast topped with luscious pearl onion sauce and flavorful diced potatoes. We did use a bit of the B. R. Cohn Cab in the sauce, which enhanced the flavor.
The 2014 B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon ($22, 14.3% ABV) is sourced from Sonoma and Mendocino County grapes. The wine is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot grapes. This is a fruit forward wine with lush flavors–I get blackberry in particular–and a long finish. Moderate tannins. All adds up to some pleasant sipping, and it is very good paired with the Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onion.
Below I provide some cooking tips with more detail on how to prepare the blanched vegetables and the duck. If you’re an experienced hand with blanching veggies and cooking duck, you might want to skip down to the recipe card instructions.
Cooking Tips for Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onion
Blanching potatoes and other vegetables
There are a few steps to this Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onion recipe that may not be obvious to the average home cook. First, the recipe calls for blanching the pearl onions and potatoes.
What is blanching? Blanching involves quickly cooking a vegetable in boiling water, draining the vegetable, then submerging the vegetable in an ice water bath. By quickly cooling the vegetable, it prevents further cooking of the vegetable from the residual heat. Blanching also helps a vegetable like the diced potato in this recipe maintain its shape and prevents it from sticking together as you do the other steps of the recipe.
Generally, when blanching, keep the vegetable in the ice water for about the same length of time the vegetable is boiled. For the potatoes, I boiled the diced potatoes for 10 minutes, followed by the same length in the ice bath. The ice bath is simply a large bowl filled with cold water with some ice added. Thoroughly drain the potato after its time in the ice bath, and set aside.
How to peel a pearled onion
I hadn’t used pearl onions prior to making this Roasted Duck Breast recipe. I started trying to prepare them the way I would a regular sized onion, but started thinking there must be a better way. I came across this YouTube video from Matthew Francis, aka Brain Food, and he breaks it down nicely. You start by cutting off the root end of the onion, the going to the blanching method. The pearl onions just need to boil in salted water for about 2 minutes, then about the same amount of time in the ice bath. Then you can just pop those pearl onions right out of the skin!
Preparing and cooking duck breast
Somehow, this Roasted Duck Breast with Pearl Onions was my first time cooking duck breast. The first step in cooking the duck breast is to render the fat, whereby the heat makes the fat melt into a liquid form. To prepare the duck for cooking, use a sharp knife to cut diagonal criss crosses in the fat, as shown below about 1/2 inch deep.
Then you place the duck, fat side down, in a non-stick pan on medium heat. The fat will gradually be cooked off the duck, a process that takes about 10 minutes.
Then you flip the duck over, and it is ready to roast in the oven.
The initial recipe I was looking at called for about 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven, but in my oven it definitely needed more cooking time. 10 minutes brought the duck breast to a nice medium rare. Once the duck is cooked to your liking, remove the duck from the oven and let it rest as you make the pearl onion sauce.
- 2 duck breasts
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 12 pearl onions, blanched in salted water then peeled
- ½ cup B.R. Cohn Cabernet
- 1 cup duck or chicken stock
- 2 tbs. blackberry preserves or jam
- 2 cup potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes, blanched in salted water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse and pat dry the duck breasts. Place on a cutting board, fat side up. Score the fat by making diagonal cuts about ½ inch deep in the fat going when way, then similar diagonal cuts the other way to create a criss crossed pattern.
- Place the duck skin and fat side down in a cold non-stick pan (preferably oven proof). Season the duck breast (non fat side) with the thyme and a bit of salt to taste. Place pan over medium heat and slowly render the fat from the duck, pressing gently. The fat basically melts off the meat during this process, which takes about 10 minutes.
- Once the fat has been rendered and the skin is golden brown, flip the duck over and place the pan in a 350˚ oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until the internal temperature of 135 degrees. The duck meat should be medium rare at this point; cook a bit longer if desired. (if you don't have an oven proof pan to use on the stove top, transfer the duck to an oven proof pan before roasting).
- Remove duck breast from pan and set on a cutting board to rest. Keep the rendered fat in the pan.
- Return pan to stovetop and heat on medium high. Add pearl onions and caramelize, stirring occasionally. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine to the pan, and stir to incorporate the bits of fat and meat into the sauce.
- Add stock and bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer. Add blackberry. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce.
- As the sauce simmers, cut the duck into thin slices and arrange on a serving platter.
- Add cooked potatoes to the sauce pan and stir to combine. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and pour over the duck. Serve and enjoy with a a good Cabernet Sauvignon!