The rich flavor of tender duck meat with a crisp skin calls my name every time I see it listed on a restaurant menu. When it is paired with a sweet and savory fruit sauce, it is irresistible. With summer in full swing and sweet red cherries in all the markets, I couldn’t resist making Grilled Duck With Cherry Sauce. I like to simplify meals during summer at the lake and this meal is quick and easy to prepare.
I buy products and meats in New Hampshire that I can’t find at the small market near our cottage in Maine. I load coolers and take them up at the beginning of summer to stock my freezer. For this meal I used vacuum packaged and frozen confit of duck leg, from a New England company called D’Artagnan. It is fully cooked and just needs to be heated on the grill or in a hot pan to get the skin crispy. It is a quick and easy way to prepare a dinner that you would find in a French restaurant.
You will need two cups of pitted cherries for this recipe so I suggest buying a pound of cherries. No…I take that back, buy two pounds. The cherries are so sweet and delicious that you will be popping a lot of them in your mouth while you are pitting them for the sauce. If you have any left, put them in a bowl and set them out on your counter. I think you will probably start humming “Life is just a bowl of cherries” as your bowl empties.
Grilled Duck With Cherry Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 c. finely diced onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 c. pitted red cherries
- 1/2 bottle of red wine (I used a Zinfandel)
- 2 tsp. honey
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp. each salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
- 1 sprig each of fresh rosemary and thyme
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with enough water to make a slurry
Add butter, onion and garlic to a pot and sauté until soft and translucent. Add all the remaining ingredients except the cornstarch and let simmer until cherries are soft but not mushy. Remove a few cherries for each serving to be used for garnish and continue to cook the cherry sauce until the cherries have broken down. Add a little water, if sauce gets too thick. Pour the cherries and sauce through a sieve. Press on the cherries with the back of a spoon to force the meat of the cherries through and leaving behind the skins and herbs to be discarded. Return the sauce to the pan. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and let the sauce simmer until it turns clear and thickens to the proper consistency.
1 confit of duck leg* per person, thawed if frozen, Place skin side down on grill until skin crisps, turn and grill for an additional minute or two until heated through.
*You can make this dish with fresh duck breasts. Score the skin, place skin side down on a hot grill, and cook for 6 to 10 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy. (Watch for flair ups and move to a cooler section of the grill, if necessary.) Turn and cook for a few more minutes until the internal temperature reaches 130 for medium rare. Let duck rest for five minutes before serving.
The grilled duck’s rich flavor paired beautifully with the savory cherry sauce . I served the duck alongside parsley potatoes and an arugula salad which I thought was a nice combination of flavors. The sauce would also be wonderful with goose, pork or venison.