This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004.

Duck breast scaloppine

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

Boneless duck breast, 12 to 16 ounces (350-500g)
Black pepper
1 lemon
1 lime
1 tangerine
1/2 teaspoon (2g) sugar
1 bay leaf
1 thick "coin" fresh ginger
1 sprig fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons (30g) butter


1. Carefully remove the skin and thick fat from the duck breast. Place the lean breast meat between sheets of plastic wrap and pound it with a rolling pin, wine bottle or similar implement until it is flattened. Cut it into four pieces of roughly similar size and shape, and pound them some more, seeking to get the meat as paper-thin as possible without shredding it. Season them with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. While you're working on the duck, place the fat and skin in a small skillet over medium heat and cook until most of the fat is rendered out.

3. Peel the "zest" (colored outer skin only) from the lemon, lime and tangerine, and put it in a small bowl. A standard grater or sharp peeler will work, but a "microplane" (available at food-specialty or hardware stores) makes it easy. Squeeze the citrus fruits into the same bowl - this should yield about one-half to three-fourths cup of juice. Remove any seeds, taste, and add a little sugar if it seems too sour. Assemble the other ingredients and mince the sage leaves fine - you should have about 1 teaspoon.

4. Put 1 or 2 tablespoons of the rendered duck fat, the ginger slice and the bay leaf in a nonstick sautee pan, reserving the rest of the duck fat for another use. Put it over medium-high heat until the oil sizzles, then put in the flattened duck-breast pieces and sear for about 2 minutes; then turn and sear the other side for 1 or 2 minutes more, depending on thickness - it's best to leave them a little pink in the middle. (NOTE: If you don't want to bother with rendering the duck fat, just use butter as your sauteeing medium. But the rendering step is easy, and the payoff is extra duck fat, which can be used to make the world's most delicious fried potatoes or potato pancakes.)

5. Put the cooked duck breasts on a plate and hold them in a warm oven while you make a quick citrus sauce: Wipe most of the excess fat out of the sautee pan, then melt the butter with the minced sage over medium heat, scraping with a wooden spoon to pick up any browned bits. Add the mixed citrus juices and zest, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid reduces and thickens a bit. Put the cooked duck pieces back in, along with any juice that has accumulated on the plate, and turn them once or twice until they're warmed through and coated with the sauce. Check seasoning and serve. I plated them on cooked orzo, two pieces of duck per person; it would work as well with rice or mashed or roasted potatoes.

MATCHING WINE: The duck meat would work about as well with a rich white or a fruity red, but the citrusy sauce yelled "Sauvignon Blanc!" and I complied; the similar citrus flavors in the bright, snappy young South African Rostenberg 2004 "Brampton" Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc were perfect. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a young Sancerre would be fine, too.