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David Kinch Shows You a Foolproof Way to Cook Duck Breast at Home

The Michelin three-star chef keeps it simple.

duck breast dried fruit Photo: courtesy Aya Brackett

David Kinch’s newest cookbook, it’s safe to say, is a departure from his first. His 2013 offering, Manresa: An Edible Reflection, was not tailored to the novice home cook. It was aimed at his culinary peers and diners who wanted a deeper look into the thought process behind the cooking that would bring Kinch’s flagship restaurant three Michelin stars. You didn’t flip open An Edible Reflection, to solve the conundrum of what the cook for a weeknight dinner or even serve to friends coming over on a Saturday night. For most of us, it was a beautiful coffee table book. 

In his new book At Home in the Kitchen, Kinch is offering up more practical advice. The recipes inside are accessible enough for home cooks, but still creative enough to make you look like a star in the kitchen. He shares with Robb Report his foolproof, anxiety-free method to make duck breast at home. And as a bonus, offers a music pairing for while you’re cooking and serving it.


I encourage you to make this recipe your own. Don’t be limited by the ingredients listed here: other dried fruits would work well in place of the figs: apricots, pears, or even something wild like pineapple. If you don’t like duck breast, this cabbage is also tasty alongside any meat—especially pork. If you do like duck breast but you’re scared to cook it, my advice is simple: don’t be. This method is easy and takes less than 20 minutes.

Duck Breast with Braised Red Cabbage & Dried Figs

Serves 6

BRAISED RED CABBAGE

  • 2⁄3 c. dry red wine
  • 1⁄2 c. port wine
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into 3 pieces (you can leave the peel on)
  • 8 dried figs, halved
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • 1 medium head red cabbage, quartered, core discarded, and thinly sliced
  • 1⁄3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium white onions, thinly sliced

DUCK

  • 4 boned duck breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • Neutral oil, such as sunflower or grapeseed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
At Home in Kitchen, David Kinch

Photo: courtesy Ten Speed Press

To make the cabbage, in a large bowl, stir together the red wine, port wine, vinegar, ginger, figs and a pinch each of sugar and salt. Add the cabbage and toss until well coated. Cover and let marinate in your refrigerator overnight.

When ready to serve, preheat your oven to 325°F. Remove the duck from your refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before cooking.

Warm the olive oil in a large ovenproof pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they’ve softened and just begun to turn golden, about 12 minutes. Stir in the cabbage mixture along with its marinade. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover, stir, and bake for another 45 minutes, uncovered. The cabbage will be quite tender and soft, with almost the consistency of a spread.

Meanwhile, about 30 minutes before serving, trim off any fat that surrounds the perimeter of the duck breasts. Starting at one corner, with the skin side facing up, use a sharp knife to cut diagonal lines in the duck’s skin about 1⁄4 inch apart. Repeat, starting at the opposite corner to make a diamond pattern. This allows the fat that’s just beneath the skin to escape as you cook.

In a medium pan on low heat, add enough neutral oil to cover the bottom in a thin film. Once the oil begins to shimmer (but before it gets very hot), set the duck breasts in the pan skin-side down. You should hear the soft sound of the skin crisping—if it’s loud, your pan is likely too hot. Let the meat sit without nudging until the skin is dark brown and crispy, about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle the flesh side liberally with salt and pepper. Turn the breasts over and allow to gently sizzle for 1 minute. Transfer to your cutting board to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Cut the duck into 1⁄2-inch-wide slices. Transfer the cabbage to a serving bowl and remove the ginger. Add some roast shallots, top with the sliced duck and serve. 

It helps to know: This cabbage marinates overnight.

Pairs well with “Catfish Blues” by John Littlejohn


Reprinted with permission from At Home in the Kitchen by David Kinch, copyright (c) 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Photographs copyright © Aya Brackett.

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