Duck Breasts with Cranberry Merlot Sauce

recipe courtesy of Chef Jamie Gwen, Radio and Television Personality and Author, California

Serves 4

Simply scrumptious, duck breast is remarkably lean and much more flavorful than chicken breast. While Muscovy duck has the best flavor, any breed of duck works in this dish, and frozen duck breasts are perfectly adequate; make sure that they are completely thawed before marinating them. Prepare the duck with the J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot, for a sauce with intense flavor, and pair the same wine with your meal, for its plump richness and vanilla oak nuances will bring out the flavor of the dish.

  • 1 cup J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot           
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced                    
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, picked and chopped            
  • 4 Muscovy Duck Breasts (approximately 2 ½ lbs of meat)
  • salt and pepper to taste                      
  • 1 cup chicken broth                
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries                
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar                
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, left whole               
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled

Combine the J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot, garlic, shallot, sage and thyme. Cut 5 horizontal slits in the skin of each duck breast (do not pierce the meat) and place the duck breasts in a shallow pan. Cover with the wine mixture and marinate overnight in the fridge.

Drain the duck breasts from the marinade, reserving the marinade to use in the sauce, and season the duck with salt and pepper. In a dry sauté pan over medium heat, place the duck breasts skin side down. Cook the breasts for about 15 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and mahogany-colored, carefully draining the fat as it cooks off the breasts. Turn the breasts over and cook 3 to 5 minutes for medium rare or to the desired doneness. Remove the duck from the pan and keep warm.

Bring the sauté pan to high heat and add the red wine marinade, simmer until reduced by one quarter. Add the chicken broth, cranberries, brown sugar and sage leaves, and simmer the mixture until reduced by half.  Strain the sauce through a fine strainer and adjust the seasoning. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cold butter. 

Slice the duck breasts and serve the sauce over the duck. Enjoy with a glass of J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot!