New Year's Eve Seared Duck Breasts with Cherry and Port Sauce

Does anyone else get tired of traipsing out on New Year’s Eve, spending lots of $$ for a so-so dinner, and worrying about driving with all the crazies on the road? Does hanging at home with a tempting dinner, delectable wine, and toasting at midnight NY time (11PM CT!) sound like heaven? We thought so, and that’s just what we did this year. We played a round of Bananagram and set up a new jigsaw puzzle, both gifts from Santa, and had one of the most memorable NYEs we’ve had in a very long time. I’ve never prepared duck before, which we got frozen at Whole Foods, and it was a gorgeous dinner. I was shocked how easy it was to make and ever so impressive. Salty balanced with sweet. Definitely a keeper.

Roasted Duck with Cherry and Port Sauce
(Modified from a Bon Appetit recipe)

1 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 cup Sherry
4 6-ounce duck breast halves

12 frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, halved
1 cup chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
1/2 cup ruby Port
Fresh thyme sprigs

1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
1/4 stick butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, room temperature

Whisk soy sauce and Sherry in medium bowl to blend. Using sharp knife, make diagonal cuts at 1/2-inch intervals in duck skin (not through meat). Place duck, skin side up, in zipock bag and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no more than 3 hours.

Bring cherries, chicken stock, beef stock, Port and thyme sprig to boil in heavy medium saucepan over high heat. Simmer until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, likely 30 minutes. This can be made ahead and reheated.

Meanwhile, heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Remove duck from marinade. Add duck breasts, skin side down, to skillet. Cook until skin is crispy, about 10 minutes. Turn duck over and continue cooking to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium. Be careful not to overcook. Transfer duck to work surface.

Add cornstarch mixture to Port-cherry sauce. Bring to simmer, whisking constantly. Add butter 1 piece at a time, whisking until butter is melted before adding next piece. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice duck breasts thinly on diagonal and fan out on plates. Spoon Port-cherry sauce over duck and serve.

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