Roasted duck breast with plum sauce

Roasted duck breast with plum sauce

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(70 ratings)

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 15 mins - 20 mins Plus resting


Serves 2
This easy yet impressive recipe makes a stylish main course for a special occasion

Nutrition and extra info


  • kcal904
  • fat64g
  • saturates20g
  • carbs39g
  • sugars38g
  • fibre2g
  • protein44g
  • salt1.05g
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  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 thyme sprig


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 1 star anise
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 25g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

For the plum sauce

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped



    Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 250g dark red plums, halved, stoned and cut into small wedges



    The juiciest fruit in the stone fruit family, plums come in many different varieties, some sweet…

  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 50ml red wine
  • 300ml beef stock


  1. For the sauce, fry the shallot in the oil for 5 mins or until softened but not coloured. Add the plums and sugar, stirring for a few mins until the sugar has dissolved. Add the red wine and stock, then simmer for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly thickened. Keep warm or leave at room temperature for up to a day before reheating to serve.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4. Score the skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife and season well with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan and place the duck breasts in, skin-side down. Fry for 6-7 mins, then turn and add the thyme, star anise and butter. Allow this to melt, basting the duck with the juices, then transfer everything to a small roasting tin and finish in the oven for 5-6 mins for pink or 10-12 mins for well done.

  3. When the duck is ready, baste again with the juices, then rest for 5 mins while you finish everything else.

  4. To serve, thinly slice each duck breast on a chopping board. Arrange on each plate along with a spoon of the Creamed potatoes, some of the plum sauce and the Buttered spinach.

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Comments (71)

mills_ellie's picture

Beautiful! Straightforward to prepare and cook. The flavours in the sauce are lovely with the duck. We're going to cook this for a dinner party in the future!

glasgow's picture

Absolutely loved this - easy to make and tasted fab. I chopped the plums up and let it bubble down till it was a jammy sauce which was just lovely!!!

3flyingpigs's picture

I have made this dish twice now and each time it was delicious! Would certainly recommend it and I will be looking into more of James' recipes.

jezmd67's picture

I'm considering making this for a dinner party for 8. Does anybody have any advice re frying the breasts ahead of time and leaving them on the side until I'm ready to put them
in the oven? I would expect them to be left out for about an hour between frying and roasting.

jacquistacey's picture

I cooked this for my husband and I tonight, the duck was cooked to perfection (that was down to me ha ha ) the recipe was really easy to follow and it turned out really really well. Delicious! We will certainly be trying it again.

sallybeattie's picture

This was lovely! Having read about there being too much sauce, I used the same amount of stock but actually boiled it until it thickened and reduced down. I only put in 20 g of sugar which was plenty, but this would depend on the sweetness of the plums.

magdalenas's picture

a good recipe for a not so confident cook, who wants to wow someone. The only downside is that the sauce was too runny, I don't mind that there was too much of it, but no matter how long I simmered it, the sauce consistency was like water.... still, one of my most favourite recipes - I recommend

magdalenas's picture

a good recipe for a not so confident cook, who wants to wow someone. The only downside is that the sauce was too runny, I don't mind that there was too much of it, but no matter how long I simmered it, the sauce consistency was like water.... still, one of my most favourite recipes - I recommend

cat_machin's picture

This is absolutely delicious but totally naughty.

Really easy to cook, and although its not the sort of thing I would normally consider, this has become a family favourite.

sylviaglover's picture

Myself and my Son really enjoyed this meal... instead of the Star Anis I added Thai 7 spices but it was delicious.... I will certainly do it again maybe when I have friends round for dinner.....

jb1504's picture

yeah this recipe rocks.
thanks guys i will use less stock next time for a thicker plum sauce.

cheers james martin loved it.
especially as i got the duck breasts for £1.20 in waitrose

sjones's picture

Just used the plum sauce recipe as I was doing whole roast duck - plum sauce absolutely amazing. Guests raved about it and siad they could just eat it on it's own. I found it needed simmering for rather longer though in order to reduce it more, or I felt it woould have been a little too runny. I made it in the moring and rewarmed in the evening - beautiful.

chedges's picture

Delicious. Hubby preferred the 5 spice roast duck with pal choi but I thought this was v nice. I blitz the sauce too.

linspedd's picture

This was the first time i'd ever cooked a duck breast....the timings were perfect and the duck just melted in the mouth. sauce was very surprising too, i did simmer for a bit longer than the recipe stated to allow it to thicken, i then left it for a couple of hours until i was ready to serve and it was perfect.

camster_8_s's picture

Very good on the whole. However remeber to let the duck rest!

yvonnec's picture

Gorgeous Dish - loved the plum sauce. I made extra and froze it - will be interesting to see how it works

pongo123's picture

Really scrummy recipe, made several times now. Reduced the sugar to 35g as was too sweet for us. I leave the sauce simmering away until ready to serve, plums break up a bit but end up with right amount of sauce.

mlsjb2's picture

Lovely dish- would highly recommend!

sheepcat's picture

Rating for sauce as served with Barneys confit duck, amazing sauce.


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