The term "succulent" was invented for duck breasts. There's really no other way to describe the incredible richness of the meat with that crispy skin that dissolves against your tongue. For a big celebration dinner like Christmas or an upcoming anniversary, duck should definitely be on the menu.
Duck breasts are not cheap, which is another reason why they make a better special occasion dinner than a weeknight meal. Look for plump, uniformly-shaped breasts that are covered with a thick layer of creamy-white skin. If you're serving a big meal with lots of side dishes, you can get away with one large breast for every two people. If the breasts are a little smaller, go for one per person. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and buy an extra breast — leftover duck is never unwelcome.
Duck is fantastic served on its own, but is also happy rubbed with spices or served with a sauce. It also goes surprisingly well with fruits like plums, cherries, and figs. Cooking them is a fairly straightforward process of rending the fat from the skin and then cooking the meat to your desired level of doneness. Hot from the oven, room temperature, or even sliced cold over a salad: duck is always a treat.
A few recipes to inspire your next feast:
• Duck with Black Olives and Black Olive Risotto
• Duck Breasts with Apples from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
• Seared Duck Breasts with Cherries and Port
• Maple-Lacquered Duck Breasts from Food52
• Duck Breasts with Fresh Mango Relish
What are your favorite recipes for duck breast?