David Scott AllenMain CoursePoultryProvencal RecipesTaste

Spiced Duck Breasts – Magret de Canard aux Épices

My inspiration for Spiced Duck Breasts was a recipe in Food & Wine. The dish is an international fusion where a Mexican spice blend meets a French-style magret de canard. The blackberry-balsamic reduction adds a touch of sweetness offsetting the spice. The result was delicious despite not quite following my culinary instincts and a perfect food partner to a 2016 Vieux Clocher from Vacqeyras in the southern Rhône.

Duck breast (magret de canard) appears on many restaurant menus in Provence. Although, it is not a regional specialty (see below). The breasts are seared lightly, and the meat is typically served on the rare side.

Spiced Duck Breasts Blackberry-Balsamic Sauce

Spiced Duck with Blackberry-Balsamic Reduction

The duck breasts are cooked at the last minute and served rare or medium-rare. Make the blackberry-balsamic reduction sauce in advance and reheat when you are ready to serve.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Servings 4 people


For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 quart (1 kg) Blackberries
  • 1/2 tsp Chicken Stock Concentrate

For the Spice Blend:

  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsps Ancho Chile Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
  • 4 6-oz Boneless Duck Breast Halves with skin


For the Sauce:

  • In a medium saucepan, boil the vinegar over high heat until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
  • Add the blackberries and cook, stirring very gently, until they are just softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the blackberries to a bowl.
  • Boil the liquid over high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes.
  • Carefully pour the accumulated juices from the blackberries into the saucepan and boil for about 30 seconds longer.
  • Whisk in the chicken stock concentrate and discard the blackberries.
  • Set sauce aside. If done a day in advance, refrigerate, then reheat before serving.

To Cook the Duck:

  • Mix together the salt, pepper, ancho chile, coriander, cumin, and dried mustard.
  • Rub into the skin and flesh of the duck breasts.
  • Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to let the duck absorb the spices.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  • Heat a large skillet over high heat. When hot, place duck breast into the dry skillet skin-side down. They will pop and sizzle.
  • Sear for 5 minutes, until skin is crispy and golden brown.
  • Turn and cook 30 seconds.
  • Place in preheated oven for 5 minutes (for medium-rare).
  • Transfer to a cutting board and slice.
  • Fan slices on the plate and drizzle with the warm sauce.


Keyword Blackberries, Duck
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

If you enjoy eating duck, then add a visit to the Dordogne in southwestern France to your travel bucket list. This region of France, located south of the Loire Valley and north of the Pyrenees, is gastronomic heaven. Food lovers will find duck on almost every menu, duck confit being a specialty. The area is also home to the prized Périgord black truffle, walnuts, Rocamadour goat cheese and hearty red wines.

Other Duck Recipes:

Make-ahead Provencal duck stew a dish that is versatile enough to serve any season, just alter the spices accordingly.

Seared duck breast with clementine-pomegranate beurre blanc is a delicious tangy combination.

Other east meets west recipe: French duck with spicy noodles.

For breakfast, lunch or dinner: duck confit hash and eggs.

Duck, roasted pear and spinach salad a recipe for summer eating.


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David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen is the author, photographer, and cook behind Cocoa & Lavender, a weekly food blog based in Tucson, Arizona. Passionate about travel, he especially enjoys eating traditional foods and learning local customs, whether in the United States or around the globe.

David's first trip to France took place when he was 14, and he returned as often as possible thereafter. However, it wasn't until his 50th birthday that he finally made it south to Provence. The beauty, history, charm, warmth, cuisine, and - of course - the rosé wines captured his heart. He shares his Provençal recipes here on Perfectly Provence, and his food and wine pairings monthly on the Provence WineZine.

David is a firm believer that sharing a meal with friends around the table is one of life's greatest pleasures. And if it happens to be in Provence, all the better!

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