Duck Breast with Saba and Grapes


  • Serving Size: Serves 4
  • 4 small or 2 large boneless duck breasts (1-3/4 to 2 lb. total)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups seedless Autumn Royal or other purple or red grapes
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 3 Tbs. saba 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. With a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut all the way through to the meat.
2. Season the duck all over with salt and pepper.
3. Put the duck skin side down in a cold 12-inch skillet. Cook over medium heat without moving, spooning off the excess fat occasionally, until the skin becomes light golden-brown, 8 to 9 minutes. 
4. Loosen the duck from the pan with a spatula. Raise the heat to medium high and continue cooking, skin side down, until the skin is thin, crisp, and browned, about 4 minutes.
5. Turn the duck and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer registers 135°F in the thickest part of a breast for medium rare, about 10 minutes more. Transfer the duck to a plate. 
6. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the skillet.
7. Add the grapes and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until lightly browned but still firm, about 3 minutes.
8. With a slotted spoon, transfer the grapes to the plate with the duck. Add the shallot to the skillet and cook until slightly softened, about 1 minute.
9. Add the wine and cook, stirring up the browned bits, until all the liquid evaporates, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth and saba and boil until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 5 to 6 minutes.
10. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the grapes, duck, and any juices from the plate to the skillet. Simmer gently for about 1 minute, turning the duck to coat it with the sauce.
11. Thinly slice the duck and divide it among 4 plates. Spoon the sauce and grapes over the duck. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with immediately with Edna Valley Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir.

           - Jeanne Kelley for Fine Cooking