Duck Breasts with Honey, Ginger and Lavender

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 2h 20m

Serves 2 as Entrée

Viognier is an incredibly aromatic wine. This recipe intends to capture this character with a combination of equally aromatic ingredients—snappy ginger, exotic lavender, and the sweet scents of vanilla and honey. The sauce offers lushness that works texturally with the fullness of the wine as well. The red meat and intriguing spice of the dish can also accentuate the cherry-spice character of pinot noir. RECOMMENDED WINE: Viognier ALTERNATIVE WINE: Pinot Noir


  • 2 whole boneless duck breasts
  • 1/8 teaspoon mixed whole peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon white-wine Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender (see NOTE)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • GARNISH: tarragon sprigs


Cut whole duck breasts into two halves lengthwise and trim all excess fat from the ends and sides of the breast. With the tip of a sharp knife, score the fat side of the breasts by cutting an X in the middle of the breast.

Marinate breasts in half of the crushed pepper, Worcestershire, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, lavender, and shallot slices. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

In a large sauté pan or skillet, combine wine, stock, vanilla, remaining 1/2 teaspoon ginger, reserved crushed pepper, and sliced shallots removed from the top of the duck breasts, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce liquid by half. Add honey and tarragon and reduce further to sauce consistency. Remove from heat and swirl in butter. Season to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

In another large sauté pan or skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Place duck breasts in pan, skin side down, and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until lightly brown. Turn breasts and continue to cook on meat side for 2 to 4 minutes until medium rare. The juices should run pinkish. Do not overcook the duck.

Remove breasts from the pan and slice at an angle. Fan breasts on the plate and top with the sauce. Garnish with sprigs of tarragon. Serve with wild rice studded with dried cherries and minced green onions.

NOTE: Dried lavender is a delightfully aromatic herb that can be purchased at most health food stores. It is excellent on Grilled Lamb with Olive Sauce, and it keeps very well stored in an airtight jar.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.

RecID 1508

nutrition information per serving

367 calories; 15g total fat; 143mg cholesterol; 277mg sodium; 5g carbohydrates; 0g fiber; 39g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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