Roasted duck breast with plum sauce

Roasted duck breast with plum sauce

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(75 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, questions and tips

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23rd Aug, 2013
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.
10th Aug, 2013
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.
31st Jul, 2013
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.
10th May, 2013
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!
18th Apr, 2013
Lovely dish, makes a lot of sauce and best to use slightly less stock than it says...
17th Mar, 2013
Great weekend/dinner party treat!
13th Mar, 2013
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.
1st Mar, 2013
Fantastic best recipe I have used yet...Plum sauce lovely. Had duck in Paris and liked it ever since but nothing ever tasted like it until this. Cheers
24th Feb, 2013
My first attempt for duck and it was a big success!!! Thank you!!!
20th Feb, 2013
Tried this for Valentine's day - major success. The sauce was delicious (but perhaps could do with longer to reduce or less stock). The whole thing looked great too. Tried James's sticky lamb chops on the bbc site as well. Again, terrific. Instructions very simple to follow. Bought one of his books today - first cookbook I've ever bought!


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