Many supermarkets now carry Pekin duck breasts, which are smaller than the Moulard variety.
Yield: 4 servings
4 boneless duck breasts, about 7oz (200g) each
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp lightly crushed black peppercorns, plus more to taste
for the sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup ruby port
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 whole star anise
1 sprig of rosemary
½ cup chicken stock
2 cups pitted fresh bing cherries
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
The sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.
1. Score the skin of each duck breast with a sharp knife. Season with the salt and crushed pepper.
2. Place the duck breasts, skin-side down, in a large frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides, about 3 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a carving board and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes, until softened.
4. Stir in the port, maple syrup, star anise, and rosemary, and boil for 30 seconds. Add the stock and boil for about 3 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Add the cherries, and cook for 2 minutes more, until heated. Season with salt and pepper. Slice each breast on the diagonal into thick slices and transfer each to a plate. Top with the sauce and serve hot.