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Duck Three-way for the Holidays!

Today my loves I share with you my best kept secret recipe series,  "Duck Three-way”. 

My duck three-way is a traditional Yule through New Years Day culinary ritual that I perform most years. Yes, it is labor intensive and takes time. But- oh- it is worth it.  

First, there's the Seared Duck Breast, a flirtatious tango of crispy skin and tender flesh. But the real tease? The Cherry Port reduction, a saucy accomplice that wraps the duck in a sweet, tangy embrace, leaving you yearning for more. Traditionally served on Yule or Christmas.

Then, meet the Duck Confit— the slow, seductive dance of duck leg confit, dripping in its own succulent juices. Close your eyes, and you'll swear you've just tasted forbidden pleasure.

And finally, the pièce de résistance—the Duck Cassoulet, a carnal carnival of duck confit, sausages, and beans. It's a culinary ménage à trois that'll leave you breathless, a symphony of flavors that hits all the right notes.  This recipes is a lucky food for New Year’s Day. I usually serve it on January 1st with crusty bread and other lucky foods.  

Why is this lucky? Glad you asked… 

The association of beans, fat, and duck with luck can be traced to various cultural and culinary traditions, each with its own symbolic meanings. Here are some insights into why these ingredients are considered lucky in certain contexts:

1. Beans:

  • Economic Prosperity: In many cultures, beans are associated with economic prosperity and financial abundance. The round shape of beans is reminiscent of coins, symbolizing wealth and good fortune.

  • Fertility and Growth: The act of planting beans and watching them grow is often linked to fertility and the cycles of nature. As a result, beans may be seen as a symbol of growth and the continuous renewal of life.

2. Fat:

  • Sustenance and Abundance: Historically, fat has been a valuable and calorie-dense source of sustenance. In cultures where food scarcity was a concern, having an abundance of fat was considered fortunate as it provided energy and nourishment.

  • Symbol of Wealth: In some cultures, having access to fat-rich foods, such as butter or animal fats, was a sign of prosperity. Fats were prized for their ability to enhance the flavor and richness of dishes, making them indulgent and celebratory.

3. Duck:

  • Symbol of Fertility: Ducks are often associated with fertility and abundance due to their prolific breeding habits. In some cultures, serving duck during festive occasions is believed to bring fertility and good fortune.

  • Wealth and Harmony: Ducks are considered a symbol of wealth and harmony in various Asian cultures. Their association with water further emphasizes the flow of abundance and prosperity.

  • Celebration and Feasting: Duck, especially when prepared in a special way like confit or roasted, is seen as a luxurious and celebratory dish. Including duck in a meal is often a way to mark special occasions and bring good luck to the festivities.


Duck Three-way isn't just a recipe series; it's a journey into the gastronomic underworld, where every bite is a rendezvous with pleasure. So, strap in, my flavor voyagers, and let the Duck Three-way take you on a ride you won't soon forget. Indulgence awaits!

The series starts with deconstructing your sacrificial foul into  breasts, legs & thighs, and “other”. “Other” being wings, skin, and fat.  We will be rendering the fat from the duck in order to make confit.  We will be keeping the bones and wings for a duck broth to cook our cassoulet beans in.  But first we need to undress and address our favorite part, the breasts.  (Thought you’d like that!)

Cutting a duck breast off the carcass is a skillful act that requires precision and a touch of finesse. Here's a step-by-step guide:

How to Cut Duck Breast from the Carcass:


  • Whole duck with breasts intact

  • Sharp boning knife

  • Cutting board


  1. Position the Duck:

  • Place the duck on a clean and stable cutting surface, breast side up. Ensure that the duck is securely positioned for safe and controlled cutting.

  1. Locate the Breastbone:

  • Feel for the breastbone running along the center of the duck. This is the ridge that separates the two breasts.

  1. Make the Incision:

  • With a sharp boning knife, make a shallow incision along one side of the breastbone. Follow the contours of the bone, separating the breast meat from the rib cage.

  1. Follow the Curve:

  • As you cut, follow the natural curve of the breast, gradually working your way down. Use gentle, controlled motions to ensure a clean separation.

  1. Trimming and Maneuvering:

  • Trim any excess skin or fat as you go. Use the tip of the knife to carefully navigate around the joint where the breast connects to the body.

  1. Repeat on the Other Side:

  • Once you've removed the first breast, repeat the process on the other side. Take your time to maintain the integrity of the breast meat.

  1. Final Touches:

  • After both breasts are removed, inspect the cut edges for any remaining bone or cartilage. Trim as needed to achieve clean, well-shaped duck breasts.

Congratulations! You've successfully cut duck breasts from the carcass, and now you're ready to embark on your Duck Three-way. Those freshly cut duck breasts are now at your command. 

Seared duck breast is not just a dish; it's a sensory experience. The crispy skin, the succulent meat, the play of flavors—it's a symphony on your palate. Preparing seared duck breast with a port wine reduction sauce is a culinary journey that promises a symphony of flavors. Here's your recipe for an exquisite dish:

Seared Duck Breast with Cherry & Port Wine Reduction Sauce


  • 2 duck breasts, skin-on

  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • ½ cup port wine

  • ½ cup dried cherries

  • 1 cup chicken or duck broth

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Fresh thyme or rosemary for garnish (optional)


  1. Prep the Duck Breasts and cherries

  • Begin with a duck breast at room temperature. Pat it dry with paper towels—moisture is the enemy of a good sear.

  • Score the skin in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat. Season both sides with salt and black pepper. Lay sprigs of rosemary on the breasts. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour, overnight is fine too.

  • Meanwhile, put the cherries in a dish that can be covered and add a splash of Balsamic, a dash of salt, and enough broth to cover. This will plumb your cherries, a very important step!

  1. Sear the Duck Breasts:

  • Heat a skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Place the duck breasts in the pan, skin side down. Sear for about 6-8 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Flip the breasts and sear the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes for medium-rare, or longer if you desire a different level of doneness.

  1. Rest the Duck Breasts:

  • Remove the duck breasts from the pan and let them rest on a cutting board for a few minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring a juicy and tender result.  This step is crucial—it allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring a juicy and succulent bite.

  1. Prepare the Port Wine Reduction Sauce:

  • In the same pan, discard excess duck fat, leaving about a tablespoon. Place the pan back on medium heat. Add cherries concoction, port wine, chicken or duck broth, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Stir to combine.

  1. Reduce and Infuse:

  • Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. This should take about 8-10 minutes. As it reduces, the sauce will thicken and become rich in flavor.

  1. Finish with Butter:

  • Once the sauce has reduced, lower the heat and add the unsalted butter. Stir until the butter is fully melted and incorporated into the sauce. This adds a velvety finish. 

  1. Slice and Plate:

  • Slice the rested duck breasts on a diagonal into medallions. Plate the slices and drizzle the luscious port wine reduction sauce over the top.

  1. Garnish and Serve:

  • If desired, garnish with fresh thyme or rosemary. Serve your seared duck breast with port wine reduction sauce alongside your favorite sides—mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or a bed of greens.

  1. Indulge:

  • Dive into the decadence of each bite, savoring the tender duck paired with the rich and slightly sweet notes of the port wine reduction sauce.

Enjoy the culinary enchantment of your homemade Seared Duck Breast with Cherries & Port Wine Reduction Sauce!

Making Duck Confit

Duck confit is the sultry art of slow-cooking duck legs to sublime perfection. Picture this: tender duck legs, bathed in their own juices, nestled in a decadent mix of aromatic herbs and spices. It's not just cooking; it's a sensuous transformation, turning tough duck legs into a symphony of succulence. The result? Meat so tantalizingly tender, it practically seduces your taste buds into submission. Duck confit is the alchemy of flavor, a slow dance of heat and time that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. It's not just a dish; it's a passionate affair with the essence of duck, leaving you craving the next clandestine rendezvous.

But first...we must render the fat...

Rendering duck fat is a culinary escapade that unlocks the liquid gold of duck goodness. Here's how you embark on this savory adventure:

  1. Start with the Gold Mine: Get your hands on some duck skin and fat. Whether it's leftover from your Duck Breast escapade or a fresh batch, the key is to have ample duck fat and skin to work with.

  2. Chop and Mingle: Dice the duck fat and skin into manageable pieces. The goal here is to expose as much surface area as possible to the warm embrace of heat.

  3. Seduction by Low Heat: Place the diced duck fat and skin in a heavy-bottomed pan, add about a cup of water, and let the magic begin. Gently coax the fat out by heating it over low heat until all the water is boiled off. You're not rushing; you're orchestrating a slow, tantalizing seduction.

  4. Time is Your Ally: As the pan simmers with anticipation, watch the fat slowly liquefy, releasing its rich, savory essence. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Give it the time it needs to reach that golden liquid state.

  5. Strain and Refine: Once the fat has liquefied and the skin bits have crisped up, strain the mixture. What you're left with is pure, unadulterated duck fat—liquid gold that will elevate any dish it graces.

  6. Bottle the Elixir: Pour your liquid gold into a glass jar, let it cool, and revel in the glory of your homemade duck fat. Seal it tight, and let it become the secret weapon in your kitchen arsenal.

Rendering duck fat is not just a culinary technique; it's a ritual that transforms humble ingredients into a treasure trove of flavor. I love using it make breakfast potatoes.


Now, let’s take that fat and use it for our confit! 

Duck confit is a classic French dish that involves slow-cooking duck legs in their own fat until they become incredibly tender and flavorful. Here's a step-by-step guide to making duck confit:

Duck Confit:


  • 4 duck leg quarters

  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 2 bay leaves

  • About 2 pounds (1 kg) duck fat (or a mixture of duck fat and vegetable oil)


  1. Prep the Duck Legs:

  • Pat the duck legs dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.

  1. Add Aromatics:

  • Place the duck legs in a dish or a large bowl. Add crushed garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Massage the salt and aromatics into the duck legs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or preferably up to 24 hours. This allows the flavors to meld and the salt to penetrate the meat.

  1. Preheat the Oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 225°F (110°C).

  1. Rinse and Pat Dry:

  • Preheat your oven to 225°F (110°C).

  • Remove the duck legs from the refrigerator and rinse off the excess salt and aromatics. Pat the legs dry with paper towels.

  1. Arrange in Baking Dish:

  • Place the duck legs in a baking dish, skin side up, in a single layer. The dish should be deep enough to hold the duck legs and allow the fat to cover them completely.

  1. Submerge in Duck Fat:

  • Melt the duck fat in a saucepan over low heat until it becomes a liquid. Pour the melted fat over the duck legs, ensuring they are completely submerged.

  1. Slow Cook in the Oven:

  • Cover the baking dish with foil or a lid and transfer it to the preheated oven. Slow-cook the duck legs for about 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and easily pulls away from the bone.

  1. Cool and Store:

  • Allow the duck legs to cool in the fat. Once cooled, you can store them in the refrigerator for several weeks. The fat will solidify and create a protective layer, preserving the duck confit.

  1. Reheat and Serve:

  • When ready to serve, gently reheat the duck legs in the oven or on the stovetop until the skin is crispy. Serve the duck confit with your favorite sides, such as roasted potatoes or a simple green salad.

Duck confit is a luxurious and versatile dish, and its preparation may require some patience, but the result is well worth the wait. Enjoy the rich, melt-in-your-mouth goodness of your homemade duck confit!

Last but not least, the Cassoulet.  First we need to make a duck broth. I use my pressure cooker if I am in a hurry.  But typically I slow cook my broth on my wood-stove for days. This unlocks all the yummy flavors, nutrients, and gelatinous matter in the bones.  It makes more a broth full of seductive depth, just like me!

Slow-Cooked Duck Broth with Pressure Cooker:


  • Duck carcass or duck parts (necks, wings, and/or backs)

  • 1 onion, quartered

  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

  • 1 gallon (4 liters) cold water

  • Salt, to taste


  1. Preparation:

  • Cut the carcass into smaller pieces for better extraction of flavors.

  1. Sauté Aromatics (Optional):

  • To enhance flavor, you can sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in the pressure cooker with a bit of oil until they are lightly browned. This step is optional but can add depth to the broth.

  1. Load the Pressure Cooker:

  • Place the duck carcass or parts into the pressure cooker. Add the sautéed aromatics, if using. Toss in black peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary.

  1. Add Water:

  • Pour in cold water, ensuring that the duck parts are submerged. Be mindful not to exceed the maximum fill line of your pressure cooker.

  1. Pressure Cooking:

  • Secure the lid on your pressure cooker and set it to high pressure. Cook for about 45-60 minutes. The exact time may vary based on your pressure cooker model.

  1. Natural Release:

  • Allow the pressure to release naturally. This helps extract more flavors from the ingredients and prevents the broth from becoming cloudy.

  1. Strain the Broth:

  • Once pressure is released, carefully open the lid. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove large solids from the broth. Then, strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to capture any remaining particles.

  1. Season with Salt:

  • Taste the broth and add salt as needed. Seasoning at this stage allows you to control the saltiness of the final broth.

  1. Cool and Store:

  • Let the broth cool to room temperature before transferring it to containers for storage. Refrigerate or freeze for later use.


  • Variations: Feel free to add additional herbs, such as parsley or dill, for extra flavor. You can also include vegetable scraps like onion peels or celery ends for a more sustainable approach.

  • Storage: Store the broth in airtight containers. It can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for longer storage.

This pressure cooker variation of slow-cooked duck broth provides a convenient and efficient way to extract the rich flavors from duck parts while saving time compared to traditional slow-cooking methods. Enjoy your homemade duck broth in soups, stews, or any recipe that calls for a flavorful and hearty broth!


Cassoulet is a French dish that marries tradition with a touch of decadence. This hearty and rich cassoulet is a symphony of flavors. Preparing a cassoulet, my culinary companion, is embarking on a journey of slow-cooked indulgence. Brace yourself for a flavorful adventure:


  • 1 pound dried white beans (like Great Northern or cannellini), soaked overnight

  • 4 duck leg confits (check out our Duck Threeway recipe for confit inspiration!)

  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cut into chunks

  • 1 pound pork sausages (Toulouse sausages are a classic choice)

  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes

  • 2 cups duck broth

  • 1 bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs like thyme, parsley, and bay leaves)

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Fresh breadcrumbs, for topping


  1. Preheat the Stage:

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C).

  1. Bean Soiree:

  • Drain the soaked beans and cook them in a large pot of boiling water until just tender. Drain and set aside.

  1. Sear and Sizzle:

  • In a large, ovenproof pot, sear the pork shoulder and bacon until browned. Remove and set aside.

  1. Onion Tango:

  • In the same pot, sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic until they dance together in golden harmony.

  1. Tomato Serenade:

  • Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot, letting them join the flavorful ensemble. Stir and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes.

  1. Layered Melody:

  • Return the pork shoulder and bacon to the pot, add the drained beans, and nestle in the duck leg confits. Arrange the sausages on top.

  1. Broth Symphony:

  • Pour in the duck broth, ensuring that the ingredients are submerged in the savory broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Bouquet Garni Waltz:

  • Add the bouquet garni to the pot. This herb bundle will infuse the cassoulet with aromatic notes.

  1. Oven Odyssey:

  • Cover the pot and transfer it to the preheated oven. Let the cassoulet slow-cook for about 2 to 3 hours, allowing the flavors to meld and the beans to become lusciously tender.

  1. Crust Crescendo:

  • Increase the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C). Sprinkle fresh breadcrumbs over the cassoulet, creating a golden crust.

  1. Grand Finale:

  • Return the pot to the oven, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes or until the top is beautifully golden and crisp.

  1. Serve and Savor:

  • Allow the cassoulet to cool slightly before serving. Spoon this masterpiece onto plates, making sure each serving gets a generous portion of duck, pork, and beans.

A Note:

Cassoulet is a dish that rewards patience. The slow cooking melds the flavors into a harmonious crescendo of taste. So, my culinary maestro, raise your spoon, and savor the rich symphony of your homemade cassoulet!

I truly hope that you enjoy this threeway as much as my guests and I do! Bon Appetit!



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