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Seared Duck Breasts with Pear-Bourbon Relish

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

This gorgeous main course is elegant enough for company, yet it’s simple and quick to make. Serve with wild rice and sautéed spinach.


  • 4 small or 2 large skin-on duck breasts (about 2 lb. total)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1 large firm-ripe pear, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 Tbs. bourbon
  • 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1 1-inch-wide strip lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 2 Tbs. dried sweetened cranberries
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped roasted unsalted pistachios

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 350
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 140
  • Fat (g): 15
  • Saturated Fat (g): 5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Cholesterol (mg): 140
  • Sodium (mg): 160
  • Carbohydrates (g): 22
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 25


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
  • Trim any excess skin off the edges of the breasts, score the skin in a 1/2-inch crosshatch pattern, and pat the breasts dry. Generously season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a heavy-duty ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes.
  • Put the duck skin side down in the hot skillet (cover with a splatter screen if you have one). Cook until the skin is deeply browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and pour off the fat in the pan. Return the duck to the pan skin side up and roast until medium rare (125°F), 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to rest.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the pear, bourbon, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, allspice, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the pear is tender, about 3 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until just a little liquid remains, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the cranberries and remove from the heat.
  • Slice the duck breasts crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Remove the lemon zest from the relish and stir in the pistachios. Serve the duck with the relish.


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Reviews (3 reviews)

  • rosebud2 | 01/12/2014

    Great recipe, quick, ingredients I had on hand, great flavours.Served with a salad, delicious.

  • CannedYou | 01/10/2014

    Loved the pear-bourbon relish and would serve it with pork tenderloin as well. The duck ended up being a bit over cooked as I was trying to get the temp up to 125. The breasts were thin and cooked more quickly so cooking time will really vary. Beware.

  • Lilia37 | 11/25/2013

    Really loved this and it was lovely with the sauce. I would definitely make it again. I pretty much halved the sauce recipe (because I had short supply of some ingredients) and I still had some leftover. It was a nice sauce, but I also wanted to enjoy the duck so I only put a light serving on each piece. I had two large duck breasts and they were slightly overdone at 15 minutes...should have checked them at 10 as directed. I didn't have bourbon so I subbed Triple Sec and I thought it turned out well. For my sides, I served it with rice pilaf with spiced caramalized onions, roasted beans with garlic and parmesan and white chocolate souffle with raspberry chocolate sauce (all can be found on this site). It was a lovely meal.

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