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How to Pan-Sear Duck Breasts and Properly Render Their Fat

Pan-seared duck breast with herbed honey and mushrooms

Sometimes I really get the urge to cook. When I do, I often make duck breasts. Duck breasts are very hands on. You really feel like you are cooking. Especially when you choose to pan-sear them. Because properly rendering the fat from duck takes a bit of time.

Searing a duck breast is a bit counter-intuitive however. Most pan searing is done hot and fast. Think chops or steak– even fish. They go in a hot pan, often with additional fat added, where you quickly char up a nice crust. Give them the old fliperoo and finish them in a hot oven. Bing. Bang. Boom.

However, try that with a duck breast and you’ll end up with a fatty, rubbery crust that’s not too pleasant to chew upon. That’s because the fat needs to be slowly rendered out of the skin so that it can properly crisp up. Do it well and not only will you get that crisp (highly edible) skin, you get the added bonus of a nice clear, clean helping of duck fat. Useful in so many ways. Because all cooks adore duck fat. That’s a hard and fast rule. Those that claim otherwise have an entirely different agenda. Valid in their world I am sure, but not in mine!