When turkeys fly (French Fridays with Dorie: Pan-seared Duck Breasts with Kumquats...or not)

I have turkeys on my mind.

Although, not for the obvious seasonal reasons.

Anyone that follows me on Instagram will know that I am totally slightly obsessed with the turkeys that spend most of the late fall and winter hanging out in front of my office window. Especially when they decide to tear up the much beds the day after the landscapers put fresh mulch down - keeping an eye on their antics totally makes certain conference calls more bearable.

This week's turkey fascination moment came with the realization that turkeys can fly. Not just little puddle hopping flying, but flat out flying...

Where have I been?

Bright red cherry sauce makes the meat appear pinker than it is...

Apparently, flying turkeys are a heck of a lot easier to come by than kumquats in Upstate NY during early November.
So of course, I used cherries.
Because, duck and cherries...well, what's not to love there?

This recipe was intended to be an udpated version of duck a l'orange - a dish I have made an enjoyed several times. But in the absence of kumquats, duck "a l'cherries" sounded like a good idea to me.

Dorie's duck recipes have been one of the great highlights of Around My French Table, for me. AMFT has unlocked the secrets of preparing restaurant quality duck entrees in relatively brief amount of time.

In this dish, most of the components are able to be prepared ahead of time - a huge bonus, in my world.

First of all, kumquats (or cherries, in my case) are gently simmered in a sugar-water syrup, resulting in slightly candied fruit. While these are cooling, a simple sauce of wine (I used a Malbec), chicken stock, peppercorns (pink), shallots, orange juice and some of the liquid from the candied fruit is prepared.

Our local whole foods store (not Whole Foods...) had these beautiful magret duck breasts available. Since only two out of the three eaters will touch duck, one large breast was going to be more than enough for our servings (the duck hater was served a pork tenderloin). A short sear on each side brought the meat to pink perfection (not red, as the pictures would suggest).

I thought that once paired with the "candied" cherries and red wine sauce, this was a company-worthy meal - that is, if one felt like sharing.

I do have one sad footnote to this otherwise happy story... After I had cooked the duck, I carefully strained off all the cooking fat and had set it aside in a measuring cup to cool and save. Someone thought they were being helpful and dumped out all that beautiful duck fat before I could get the first words of protest out of my mouth. Oh, that hurt.

On the positive side, I had help cleaning up - so, there is no use crying over lost duck fat...or something like that.

Peace out.


This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. The recipe for pan seared duck breasts with candied kumquats and red wine sauce can be found here on Epicurious


  1. I actually decided to use figs after I read on the P&Q that your cherries worked wonderfully. And, because you also said you didn't change the recipe at all, I didn't either. What a copy cat I am but the result was so delicious. I agree that Does does duck well. My favorite, however, is still the duck with the peaches. When my JarJarDuck arrived at the table last Thursday night, I thought of you and Salmon in a Jar. I also thought about how hungry I was going to be when I left the restaurant. I saved my duck fat - want me to FedEx it your way? Cold and snowy here also.

  2. Nice substitute with the cherries! They look gorgeous and I bet they tasted great, too. I feel like there's something about duck that always feels company-worthy...maybe it's just Dorie's recipes. Anyway, glad you all enjoyed it and bummer about the fat. :(

  3. Cherries sound like a wonderful substitute for the kumquats! And everyone knows cherries and duck go so well together! I love your substitution!
    I have a lot of turkeys around here! I love watching them as they wonder through my yard in the winter, fly up into the trees to roost at night, and come back down each morning! Happy Friday, Cher!

  4. I decided to wait a few weeks to make this until I can get kumquats, but your cherry version looks wonderful!

  5. Nice duck, Cherie.
    (I'm so sorry. I couldn't help it)

  6. Cherries were a creative substitute, and I'm sure that was delicious too. Too bad about the duck fat. You'll just have to make it again! I haven't been on Instagram in a while, but I'll have to get on this week and check out the turkey antics. They were amusing last year! Have a great weekend.

  7. Looks good with the cherries, great idea. We loved this one, pretty easy
    to prepare too. Have a great weekend.

  8. Duck and cherries is a FAB combo! Nicely done!

  9. Well, I guess you should have no trouble sourcing your thanksgiving turkey this year:-) Seriously, they should look sharp this time of year.

    It's interesting that I'd honestly never given much thought to the right season for kumquats. Then again, I'd never really given them much though in any regard. So I guess I should consider myself lucky to have found them.

  10. Oh, yeah, Bill has tidied up and thrown away vital ingredients (like a rib glaze that I had been simmering, then letting cool). I didn't even think about saving the duck fat...duh!!! I was so tempted to make mine with cherries after seeing yours, but you know who won't eat them :/

  11. Oh no Cher! Throwing away your duck fat is a sad turn of events. But like you said clean up help is always appreciated. After you posted somewhere that you used cherries I decided to do the same and it was indeed delicious! My mom and dad lived on 80 acres in northern Arkansas and we would sit on their back deck watching the flocks of turkeys. They don't seem to fly often but when they need to they can, indeed, fly!

  12. It never occurred to me to save the duck fat, I must investigate this savory treat. I am craving cherries now. I love cherries especially a homemade pie which I am also craving but I digress. We loved this duck too and think it is company worthy.

  13. LOL - I didn't know turkeys could fly either. I'd be having turkey dinner if they were ripping up my freshly laid mulch. Your duck a la cherries looks terrific!


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