Duck breasts

Rick Stein cooks duck breasts in prunes and red wine for this succulent dinner party dish
By Rick Stein
Duck breasts
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours for prunes to soak
  • Effort: easy


  • 8 dried agen prunes, soaked in cool water in a covered bowl for 2 hours
  • 4 duck breast, about 150g-200g each
  • 150 g carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 600 ml red wine, such as a Languedoc or Corbières
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 large sprig thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 15 g plain chocolate

Tips and Suggestions

Serve with saute potatoes.


1. Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and fry the breasts, skin-side down, then lower the heat slightly. Fry for 2 minutes until the skin is nicely brown. Turn over and brown on the other side for 2 minutes, then lift onto a plate and set aside.

2. Add the carrots, onions, shallots and garlic to the duck fat left in the pan and fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then until soft and golden brown. Add the wine, bring to a rapid boil, then light with a match and shake the pan for a few seconds until the flames have died down - stand well back as you do this. Lower the heat, add the cloves, thyme and bay leaves, and leave the sauce to simmer gently for 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven 100C/fan 80C/gas ¼. Return the duck breasts to the pan, skin-side down, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over, cover again and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. This will give you duck that is still pink in the middle, but if you like it a little better cooked, cook for up to 1 minute more on either side.

4. Lift the duck out of the sauce onto a plate, cover with foil and leave to rest in the oven while you finish the sauce. Add the chocolate to the sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve into a small pan, pressing out as much liquid as you can with the back of a ladle.

5. Drain the prunes and add them to the pan. Simmer over a medium heat until they have heated through and the sauce is reduced and well flavoured. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. To serve, lift the duck breasts onto a board and slice on the diagonal into long, thin slices. Lift each one onto a warmed plate and serve with 2 prunes alongside. Spoon some of the sauce over and around the duck and prunes and serve.

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