Duck Breast with Fig Risotto & Spiced Port Syrup

This recipe is overflowing with holiday-y flavors. Sweet and savory, rich and spicy, Steven LaCount’s cinnamon dusted duck breast would make a beautiful centerpiece to any holiday meal. And, unlike the storied Christmas goose, it doesn’t take hours to roast or make a huge mess. This season, eschew the larger fowl and go for this meal which can be made in under an hour.


Servings: 4


For the duck
  • 4 Long Island half duck breasts (single lobe), excess fat trimmed and skin scored
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
For the star anise syrup
  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon currant jelly
For the fig risotto
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, diced small
  • 1/2 cup aborio or canaroli rice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup duck or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper


For the star anise syrup
  1. Combine the port, clove, anise and jelly in a small sauce pan and simmer over low heat until it’s reduced substantially and a syrupy consistency is reached. Remove the clove and star anise, and set aside.
For the risotto
  1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until translucent. Add the rice and sauté a bit.
  2. Then, add the figs and Marsala wine and cook until almost all of the liquid is absorbed into the rice.
  3. Add the chicken stock, a little at a time, stirring until it works into the risotto. Add more stock as needed.
  4. When the risotto starts to feel slightly tender, add the heavy cream to finish it. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the duck
  1. Season both sides of the duck breasts with salt, black pepper and the cinnamon.
  2. Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the breasts skin side down. Slowly let the skin crisp and the fat render from the duck breasts (this will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes).
  3. Turn the breasts over and finish cooking to medium rare (approximately 4 to 5 minutes more). The meat should register 125 degrees in the middle.
  4. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing for service.
To serve
  1. Spoon some of the fig risotto onto the plate. Slice the duck breast at an angle and fan the slices around the risotto on the plate. Spoon some of the syrup around the plate.
  2. If desired, garnish the plate with whole roasted shallots and micro greens or chives.

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