Pan-Seared Duck Breasts with Spiced Candied Kumquat Sauce

By Marge Perry & David Bonom

This elegant and sophisticated spin on Duck L’Orange offers a complex combination of sweet, savory, and sour flavors over rich, meaty duck breasts.  The candied kumquats may be made several days ahead.

  • Yield: Makes 4 servings
  • Course: Entree

All you need for this recipe and more...


Candied kumquats

18 kumquats, sliced crosswise

1 cup water

2/3 cup sugar


1 3/4 cup dry Riesling wine

1/2 cup chopped shallots

3 garlic cloves, smashed

2 star anise pods

1 cinnamon stick

15 whole black peppercorns

3/4 cup orange juice

2 cups unsalted chicken broth

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 (12-14 ounce) skin-on magret duck breasts halves

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided


1. For the kumquats combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook 1 minute. Stir in the kumquats, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until tender, 20-22 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve reserving 3/4 cup of the syrup. 

2. Preheat the oven to 400F. 

3. Meanwhile, combine the wine, shallots, garlic, star anise pods, cinnamon stick and black peppercorns in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid has reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Stir in the orange juice and return to a boil, reduce liquid to 1 1/4 cups about 5-6 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth, return to a boil and reduce to 1 1/2 cups, about 12-14 minutes; strain through a sieve and discard the solids. 

4. With a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck breasts diagonally to create a1/2-inch-wide diamond pattern. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium. Season the duck with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Add the duck to the skillet, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 5-6 minutes. Turn the breasts over and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer the duck to a baking sheet. Set duck in the oven and roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 125°F for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and let rest, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes. 

5. While the duck is in the oven, pour off all but 1 tablespoon duck fat from the skillet. Heat the pan over medium and add the sauce mixture and reserved kumquat syrup; bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the kumquats and butter until melted; season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. 

6. Cut the duck crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices and serve topped with the kumquat sauce.