Pan-Seared Duck with Peppercorn Cream Sauce

Makes: 4 Servings
This recipe features a classic pairing of crispy duck breast fillets topped with a savory sauce. Invite your family, friends, and even your boss.


  • 4 to 6 duck breast fillets (skin on or off)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon grease
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup brandy (or substitute orange juice)
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (or the white part of 2 green onions)
  • 2 tablespoons cracked tricolor peppercorns
  • 1 cup heavy cream


[Step 1] Season duck breast fillets liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets skin-side down and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until crisp. Flip the meat over and cook to desired doneness. For skinless fillets, brown on both sides for about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

[Step 2] Remove the duck from the pan and place on a plate. Cover with tented foil to keep the fillets warm. Remove the pan from the stove, pour off any excess oil, and lightly wipe down the pan with a paper towel. Combine chicken broth and brandy and pour into the pan. Return the pan to the stove and stir the contents over medium-high heat to remove any bits of meat stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add shallots and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add heavy cream, bring to a boil, and whisk constantly for about 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt. 

[Step 3] Slice duck breast fillets into 3 or 4 slices. Arrange on plates and spoon sauce over the meat. 

Skin On or Off? Plucking rather than skinning a duck requires a little extra time, but it’s worth it. Puddle ducks such as mallards, black ducks, and pintails are the best candidates for plucking. The skin of darker-fleshed divers can add unpleasant flavors and should be removed prior to cooking. Cook fillets until the skin is crisp, not rubbery, and then brown the other side.