How to cook duck filletsNovember 13, 2023
Duck is often seen as meat for special occasions, but it can be used to make delicious meals all year round. Unlike other poultry, duck fillets have a texture and colour that is more similar to that of red meat. It’s also safe to eat duck medium-rare, if you follow the correct guidelines. Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be serving up succulent duck fillets at your next dinner party.
Types of duck meat
There are three commonly eaten types of duck, which each have different properties. The first, pekin duck, has a mild flavour and tender texture. The second, muscovy duck, has a stronger flavour and is usually larger. And finally, the third option, also known as moulard duck, is a cross between a female pekin and a male muscovy. The breasts are regarded as a delicacy thanks to their similarity to steak and larger size.
Because ducks are migratory birds, they need a significant amount of fat to carry them through their long journeys. This is different from other poultry. It’s important to remember this, because in order to cook duck breast correctly, you have to render the fat, which helps to get that skin crispy.
How to cook duck fillets
There are two common ways to cook duck fillets: baking them in the oven and pan frying.
How to cook duck breast fillets
Compared to chicken, duck has thicker skin and a higher fat content. Duck breasts are covered by a generous layer of fat, which needs to be melted before frying to achieve a delicious, crispy skin.
HelloFresh’s recipe development manager, Mimi Morley, suggests that the best way to melt the fat is to score the dry duck breasts. Once you’ve scored through the layer of fat, cook the duck breast skin-side down in a frying pan. When the fat has melted away, you can put the duck breast in the oven to finish cooking.
Another option is to add duck breast to dishes such as curries or stir-fries. You can fry the duck breasts until they’re browned, then slow cook them in the liquid.
How to cook duck fillets in the oven
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/gas mark 6).
- Using a paper towel, dry the skin of the duck fillet.
- Score the duck breast with a knife.
- Season the whole duck breast fillet with salt and pepper.
- In a nonstick pan, cook the duck breast without oil, skin side down, on medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Regularly pour the fat off, then seal the opposite side for a minute.
- The duck breasts should be placed skin-side up in the centre of the preheated oven.
- Based on how you want your duck cooked, keep it in the oven for approximately 15 to 18 minutes.
- After the duck has been cooked to your preference, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
How to pan fry duck fillets
- Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the duck breast.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the duck breast skin-side down in a cold non-stick frying pan using a medium to high heat.
- As the fat starts to melt, tilt the pan towards you and remove the liquid using a spoon.
- Fry the duck breast for roughly 6 minutes, then turn it over and cook for another 4 minutes.
- Turn the duck breast with tongs to sear all sides evenly.
- Remove the duck from the pan. If it’s not fully cooked to your liking, continue cooking it in a preheated oven at 220ºC/gas mark 7.
- Leave the duck breast to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place before serving.
Whichever way you choose to cook your duck, it’s important to make sure that your meat is thoroughly cooked and safe to eat. You can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your duck breast. If the core temperature (where the breast is thickest) is 60°C for 45 minutes, 65°C for 10 minutes; 70°C for two minutes; 75°C for 30 seconds, 80°C for six seconds, then it has reached its perfect temperature and is ready to be eaten. The meat should be thoroughly cooked, with no traces of pink and clear juices flowing.
What to serve with duck
Duck breast can be serve with a variety of different accompaniments.
- Roasted vegetables
- Caramelised carrots
- Mashed potatoes
- Dauphinoise potatoes
- Balsamic vinegar salad
- Orange and fennel salad
- Roasted beet salad
- Orange or plum sauce
Duck fillet recipes
Preparing duck breast is incredibly easy due to its tender texture and delectable flavour. There are loads of mouth-watering recipes to explore:
- Roasted Duck Breast and Redcurrant Jus
- Honey & Soy Glazed Duck Breast
- Roasted Duck Breast and Fig Sauce
- Apple & Sage Pan Fried Duck Breast
- Chinese 5 Spice Duck with Rice and Mango Salad
- Duck Breast With Mustard Lentils
- Duck A L’Orange
Looking for more delicious recipes to thrill your friends and family? See HelloFresh’s recipe hub to discover more!