This exquisite recipe for Pan Seared Duck Breasts with Clementines and a Red Wine Sauce is for your holiday dining pleasure. Candied citrus and the flavorful sauce make this a restaurant-worthy dish.

This Duck Breast Recipe doesn’t have the classic orange sauce for duck, but instead uses clementines creating another delicious pairing.

Pan Seared Duck Breasts on a white basketweave plate.

Why You Must Make

  • This is a recipe from Dorie Greenspan, who creates amazing recipes that are easy enough for home cooks.
  • My husband loves duck, so it was time I tried to make it at home.
  • It’s really a simple recipe with the goal of rendering off the fat, crisping up the skin, and cooking the duck to rare or medium rare for the best results.

Recipe Tips

  • This recipe called for kumquats which were to be candied, then their syrup used in the sauce and the fruit to be used as a garnish. If you can’t procure kumquats, other citrus can be used like oranges or clementines.
  • Make sure to score the duck skin in a diamond pattern without cutting into the meat.
  • Dorie recommends sautéeing in a Dutch oven to minimize the spatter that comes with cooking duck in a skillet.
  • Cook until the skin is brown and crisp.
  • To serve, slice the duck on the diagonal and fan out onto the plate for an elegant presentation. Drizzle with sauce and top with some of the candied kumquats.

So for other times of the year, you can buy jars of candied kumquats, substitute another citrus like clementines or beg your friends to mail you some from Southern California. But it just wasn’t going to happen, so I substituted the ubiquitous clementine. Tangerines would work well, too.

Pan Seared Duck Breasts in wine sauce on a white plate with a red handled knife.

Typing the word “clementine” always reminds me of my dad…who crooned “Oh, my darling, Clementine” whenever the mood struck. He had a list of favorite songs, and I suppose that was better than one of his college favorites, “There is gin, gin, gin that makes you want to sin in the quartermaster’s corps,” which we learned as we grew older. But I digress…

How to Make

This is our third duck recipe from Around My French Table.

  • I had attempted duck before learning Dorie’s method of scoring, searing fat side down for 8 minutes, flipping, and cooking for 3 more minutes if you like it rare. And the hubby does.
  • Duck is best served rare or medium rare.
  • Bill happens to be the duck expert in our house and he proclaimed this dish to be fabulous.
  • The accompanying sauce was made of red wine, balsamic, some black peppercorns, coriander seeds, shallots, orange juice, and chicken broth. The aroma is heavenly.
  • Dorie suggests slicing and fanning out the duck on the plate. It makes a lovely presentation.
  • So if there are duck fans in your family, you may want to add this to your holiday menu. And if you’re lucky, it will be kumquat season when you do!
Pan Seared Duck Breasts on a plate with orange slices and Brussels sprouts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Know When Duck is Done?

The best method to check for doneness is with a meat thermometer. Dorie suggests 130°F for medium-rare duck. The recipe also suggests times for cooking each side, but the duck sizes can vary and it will also depend on whether your duck has come to room temperature or is still cool from the refrigerator. Her rule of thumb is ¾ of the cooking time should be with the skin side down.

Why Do You Score the Duck Skin?

Duck can be very fatty, so scoring the skin helps render the fat and make crispier skin. Dorie suggests a ¾-inch crosshatch pattern. It also makes a lovely presentation.

How Do You Make a Flavorful Sauce to Serve with Duck?

Make sure to use some of the delicious fat rendered from the duck in your sauce. There is loads of flavor in it. Deglazing with red wine also enhances the flavor. Like salt, wine is also a wonderful flavor enhancer.

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Pan Seared Duck Breast on a white plate with citrus slices.

Pan Seared Duck Breasts with Clementines

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 6

An elegant, restaurant-worthy duck recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan.


  • 2 ¼ cups fruity red wine, such as Beaujolais
  • ¾ cup chopped shallots (about 3 large)
  • 4 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 22 whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 12 coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 large or 4 small duck breast halves with skin, Dorie recommends Muscovy duck breast halves.
  • Candied kumquats
  • Additional crushed whole black peppercorns


    1. Combine Beaujolais, chopped shallots, balsamic vinegar, crushed peppercorns, and crushed coriander seeds in a medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1 ½ cups, about 12 minutes.
    2. Add orange juice and boil for 5 minutes.
    3. Add chicken broth and boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain and set aside.
    4. Preheat the oven to 250°.
    5. Using a sharp knife, score the skin of duck breasts diagonally to create a ¾-inch-wide diamond pattern. Sprinkle duck with salt and pepper.
    6. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the breasts skin sides down until skin is brown and crisp, about 8 minutes.
    7. Turn and cook until brown and a cooking thermometer inserted into the center registers 130° for medium-rare, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.
    8. Drain the kumquats, reserving the syrup. Pour off fat from skillets, reserving 2 tablespoons of fat in a large skillet for the sauce.
    9. Heat a large skillet with fat over medium-high heat. Add reserved sauce and 4 ½ tablespoons of reserved kumquat syrup. Boil until sauce is thickened and reduced to ¾ cup, about 5 minutes.
    10. Slice duck breasts crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices.
    11. Divide duck breast slices among 6 plates. Drizzle duck with red wine sauce, garnish with candied kumquats, sprinkle with crushed peppercorns, and serve.


Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

The orange sauce may be made a day ahead of time. Keep it in the refrigerator and rewarm to serve.


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Dorie’s recipe can be found in her cookbook, Around My French Table, and can be viewed and printed off of Epicurious.

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Skinny Tip

I’m offering a series of Skinny Tips. How I keep slim is one of my most frequent inquiries. I’ll feature more tips on some of my upcoming blog posts. Click on the #SkinnyTip tag at the end of this post to see all my previous tips.

Tip #49: With Thanksgiving approaching, I felt it was appropo to get back on track with my skinny tips. If you must have a slice of pumpkin pie (or apple or chocolate or pecan), eat just the filling. Skipping the crust will save lots of calories. The goal over the holidays is to maintain, not lose weight.