Roasted duck breast with plum sauce

Roasted duck breast with plum sauce

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(66 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 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

    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 (69)

Claudiacirz's picture

Very good recipe, blitzed the sauce to make it smooth and had the consistency of gravy, served with sweet potatoes and spinach

Julie Meeds's picture

Hi, has anyone tried freezing the left over sauce?

liinabachmann's picture

just finished eating and it was delicious! I didnt use the stock at all, for the sauce, only the wine and a bit more sugar than the recipe recommends. the sauce was very syrupy and made a perfect match with the duck. served potato mash (made it with double cream, butter and chopped red onions). all 3 things took me less than an hour to make but tasted like I was eating restaurant food!

AnnabelDeVine's picture

I followed the recipe to the letter and it was absolutely delicious. Served it with mash and kale, who needs to go to a restaurant when you can do recipes like this home!

Angelica Mercieca Ciantar's picture

Brilliant recipe! Including the side dishes! Lovely! Made this for my husband yesterday and he absolutely loved it. I did simmer the sauce for longer and used less stock and about half a plum over the amount mentioned to get a thicker sauce.

One other change I made is instead of heating the pan before putting the duck breasts in I followed Gordon Ramsay's suggestion of putting the duck in a cold pan and letting it heat up on very low heat. This helps to render the duck fat, making the meat less fatty and the skin gloriously crispy! I also used a hob proof tin that could go straight in the oven instead of transferring from a frying pan to a roasting tin.

prislau's picture

Absolutely recommends this recipe. This is the first time I cook duck and it was Super easy and tasted and looked amazing. For the sauce, I also reduced for about 30/35 minutes and whizz it so that it looks smoother.

marksie531's picture

Made this last night for 4 (multiplied all the ingredients by 2). I followed the recipe to the letter but instead of reducing the sauce for 15 minutes, I reduced for about 30/35 minutes, the sauce was delicious with a lovely consistency. Super recipe, easy, but real woh factory, will defiantly be making this again.

loauty's picture

Used this recipe for christmas lunch, made the sauce the day before, beautiful recipe for duck, will definitely cook this again.

moltonbrown's picture

Great Dish. I've never cooked duck breasts before - such an easy recipe but with fantastic results.

skemp's picture

This was the first time I had attempted to cook duck - was a really simple recipe to follow. Loved the flavour of the plum sauce. Will definitely cook this again.

mickforfood's picture

Great dish. I was surprised how well the duck turned out. It was a nice pink as predicted by the recipe for the times I used. It took me about an hour to get it all done though including preparation but I'm pretty new to dishes like this!

johnstanbury's picture

OMG! absolutely delicious!

kintburycook's picture

Really easy to make and pleasant, without being a fantastic dish. One of two alterations I made was that after researching several different plum sauce recipes on the internet, I added star anise to the sauce itself (before roasting the duck later). Despite this addition, I still felt the sauce lacked something in the final tasting - next time I may add ginger, fennel seeds, garlic or something else sweet, like some orange juice. Another alteration, is that knowing James Martin's tendency to over-butter dishes, I did cut back the 25g of butter to 10g just before putting the duck breasts in the oven to roast. It was sufficient. Three out of five stars.

franhudson's picture

Made this tonight and it was fabulous. Very impressive restaurant quality dish.
Made sauce the previous day, used less liquid as advised by previous reviews - it had no shape to it....quite mushy, but delicious when reheated today.
Cooked the duck breast specifically to the times stated ( minimum times for pink duck) and it was perfect.

jule955's picture

I was surprised at how easy the recipe is. I always thought duck was hard to cook, but this is really simple. Delicious too, it's become a real favourite. I find it a bit too sweet though, so next time I'll use less sugar. And the plums can also be overpowering, so I use fewer.

scallun's picture

I made this recipe for Valentine's Day a few years ago, and it was fantastic. My boyfriend still mentions this dinner, and I've made it a couple of times since. A real treat that tastes amazing, but is really simple to pull off. Give it a go, you won't regret it.

heatherg3000's picture

Really easy to make and impressive looking too! Sauce was lovely, although my plums did start to get mushy and lose their shape! Maybe simmered for just a bit too long!

hanabie's picture

Lovely dish, makes a lot of sauce and best to use slightly less stock than it says...

buyer87's picture

Great weekend/dinner party treat!

glenyst's picture

This really works. There was a lot of sauce, but that's OK, and it was a bit on the runny side, but that was OK too, in this particular case. I don't think the picture does it justice - with plenty of sauce, it isn't as dry as it looks. The duck was nice and pink and the whole thing was relatively quick and easy. I didn't change anything, except that I didn't use all the stock because it wouldn't fit in my pan. (I used all the wine though). I think I'd use the smaller amount on purpose next time.


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