Pan Fried & Roast Duck Breast, Parsnip Dauphinoise, Garlic & Sage Arancini, Mushroom Puree, Cavolo Nero, Crispy Sage, Crispy Duck Skin & Apricot Sauce

This pan fried & roast duck breast recipe pairs the duck with a parsnip dauphinoise, garlic and sage pearl barley arancini, an apricot sauce and a whole load of goodies from mushroom puree to crispy duck skin.

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Pan-Fried, Roast Duck Breast with Apricot Sauce


Surprisingly, duck does not fall amongst my favourite meats. I do enjoy it, but not in the rather voracious way many people do. I am not sure I find it quite so versatile as some dishes, though I think it likely I simply have more exploring to do!

Nevertheless, I do appreciate it. Duck has a wonderful and intense flavour that lends itself perfectly to earthy, fruity, complex dishes. It is more exciting than chicken, yet more accessible than the vast majority of game.


It’s also more forgiving of mistakes.

With its high fat content, duck can very much feel like the luxurious choice. Crisp and juicy, it is as satisfying as it is delicious. It also tends to baste itself as it cooks, which ensures it remains soft and moist.

It’s well documented that duck goes well with fruits and spices, as well as with earthy flavours like mushroom and root vegetables.

Pan-Fried, Roast Duck Breast with Apricot Sauce

Most importantly, it is something of a treat to eat, whether you smoke it and serve it with a nutty salad or steam it and serve it with five spice and daikon.

It is to this surprisingly exotic ecosystem that I owe so much of the food that comes my way. I cannot take the credit for hunting or foraging, but I am far from squeamish and don’t mind getting my hands dirty.

Another of the wonderful things about living where I do, is the kindness of those who surround me. When my friends are successful in their forays into the countryside, they tend to be very generous.


In turn, I do the best I can to provide them with something in return. Sometimes a simple pie or even something a little more complicated, like this pheasant breast recipe right here.

About the dish

This explores the relationship between duck and woodland flavours, pairing it with sage, mushroom, parsnip and apricot.

We’re going to both pan fry and roast the duck, first to sear and colour and then to finish in the oven. Pan fried duck breast is crispy and beautiful, with a wonderful, juicy consistency and just enough crunch to the skin. We will then roast the duck breast to finish it off, because as tasty as duck is pink, we certainly don’t want it raw.

Pan-Fried, Roast Duck Breast with Apricot Sauce

Along with pan frying and roasting the duck breast, we will also crisp up its skin and serve that as a crunchy, salty, super-delicious garnish. And if crispy duck skin isn’t enough for you, we’ll also throw in a little crispy sage, which is quick and easy to put together and really, really tasty.

Apricot goes wonderfully with both duck and sage, so we’ll be using it in a few places in this recipe. Firstly, we’ll be using apricot in a reduction of either chicken, lamb or duck stock to create a wonderful sauce, perfectly matched with all the other ingredients.

Secondly, we’ll be using it in the arancini, which will also contain garlic and sage. For those who are not familiar, an arancini is essentially a breaded, deep-fried rice ball, flavoured with any combination of usually Italian ingredients. Although they’re not quite so Italian today!

In this instance, the arancini will be made with pearl barley instead of rice. We’ll have to add just a tiny bit of flour at the end to help bind the ingredients, because pearl barley has a lot less starch than rice. Even when you let it cool, you’ll probably find your arancini balls fall apart as you try to put them together, so adding just enough flour to bind without changing the flavour or texture is a quick and easy way to save yourself some frustration later.

Pan-Fried, Roast Duck Breast with Apricot Sauce

On a final sagey note, we’ll be making a parsnip dauphinoise. As you might expect, it’s basically a potato dauphinoise, but with parsnip instead! Multiple layers of parsnip stacked on top of each other, each seasoned with salt and pepper, flavoured with sage and cooked in butter and cream.

We’ll serve all of these major ingredients with a very simple mushroom puree and some cavolo nero.

A few final things to remember

  • Pan fried duck breast always turns out best when you start with a cold pan. It brings the skin up to temperature gradually and helps that fat to render, serving as the fat in which the dish can then cook. It helps the inside cook through evenly and aids in crisping up the skin. It’s a very helpful technique!
  • I started off with a whole duck, so I had a few little extras to work with. I had extra skin to crisp up and I had made my own stock from roast bones long before I even looked at the duck breasts. If you have only the breast meat itself, you can skip the part in which we make the crispy duck skin, or you could trim a little of any excess you might find on the breasts and use that instead.
  • I cut my dauphinoise with a metal ring mould. If you have one, great, if not you can either use a cup or you can serve a good old slab of the stuff. I won’t be covering the plating up of the dauphinoise in the recipe.
Pan-Fried, Roast Duck Breast with Apricot Sauce

Similar Recipes & Useful Sides

Pheasant Breast, Pheasant Heart, Celeriac, Cavolo Nero, Mushroom & Hazelnut – The rather verbose title tells you more about this dish than a simple sentence ever could. Please note the crispy pheasant heart. Crunch.

Sweet & Sour Duck Breast – Another duck dish. This time, we combine modern presentation with Chinese-influenced flavours.

Pork Sirloin with Creamy Polenta Mash – Big ingredients, cooked with a lot of love and care.

Spiced Lamb Rump with Carrot, Ginger, Cauliflower & Pearl Barley – The sexiest, creamiest, butteriest, chickeniest curry I’ve ever made and an absolute personal favourite.

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Pan-Fried, Roast Duck Breast with Apricot Sauce

Pan Fried & Roast Duck Breast, Parsnip Dauphinoise, Garlic & Sage Arancini, Mushroom Puree, Cavolo Nero, Crispy Sage, Crispy Duck Skin & Apricot Sauce

Ed Chef
This pan fried & roast duck breast recipe pairs the duck with a parsnip dauphinoise, garlic and sage pearl barley arancini, an apricot sauce and a whole load of goodies from mushroom puree to crispy duck skin.
Course Dinner, main, Main Course
Cuisine English
Servings 2


  • 2 Duck Breast
  • Spare Duck Skin optional
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • 8 Apricots
  • 6 Parsnips est
  • 300 ml Single Cream
  • Sage
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 cup Pearl Barley
  • 1 sml Onion
  • 150 g Mushrooms
  • 5 tbsp Flour
  • 1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • 600 ml Stock duck, chicken or lamb
  • 6 leaves Cavolo Nero
  • Caster Sugar



  • We’ll begin by preparing the apricots and by making the sauce. To do this, simply add the stock to a large enough pan and reduce it down on at a simmer until thick enough to sauce a dish. While the sauce reduces, peel and remove the stone from all the apricots, setting four aside and cutting the other four into small cubes. Add those cubes to the sauce for the last 30 minutes or so, then taste and season as required, adding salt if necessary and caster sugar if desired. At the end, add a good knob of butter and stir it in off the heat, then serve.


  • Peel the parsnips and trim the ends, then either finely slice them or slice them down on a mandolin. Layer those slices all around an ovenproof dish and add slices of butter, salt and a little chopped sage and cracked black pepper. You want the parsnip pieces close enough that they overlap. Repeat this process again and again until the dish is full, then pour in enough cream that it almost reaches the top, but not enough to submerge or to overflow. Remember that heat expands, so you want it a little way beneath the top of the bowl. Put it in the oven at around 160c for 1.5 – 2 hours, or until it is fork tender. Press the surface down with another, similar shaped bowl, and allow it to cool, then either cut the dauphinoise from it or bring the whole thing back to temperature on a higher oven setting to colour the outside. 200c or so should suffice. You don’t want it to burn.

Duck Skin

  • If you’re making crispy duck skin, trim the duck skin into suitably sized pieces, remembering they will shrink substantially, and trap them, seasoned with salt, between two similarly shaped trays, each lined with baking paper. Place them in an oven on a low temperature for long enough that they dry out and cook through, crisping up and stiffening. I don’t want to provide a time, so just keep on checking.


  • Peel and finely dice your onion and 2 cloves of garlic, then cook them on a medium temperature in a buttered saucepan with some salt for just a few minutes until they soften, then add the pearl barley, some finely diced sage and the remaining apricot, stirring everything together and adding a splash of boiling water. Cook this now like you might a risotto, continuing to add hot water and stirring everything together, cooking at a relatively gentle simmer until the pearl barley is soft and the apricots have effectively melted into the sauce. Once the water has all evapourated, season with salt and black pepper, then taste and add a couple of tablespoons of flour, stirring it all in and leaving it to cool.
  • Once the arancini mix is cool, set up three bowls, one with just a little flour, the next with a whisked egg and the third with the breadcrumbs, ideally seasoned with a little salt. You can scatter in some finely diced sage here too, if you like. Roll the arancini mix into balls and then in the flour, followed by the egg and then, once any excess egg has drained off a little, the breadcrumbs. Deep fry them at 180c until the breadcrumbs are crispy and golden brown. We only need to make 2, but you should have enough mixture for more, so you can either bulk up on them now or set them aside to snack on another day.


  • Slice up the mushrooms, then roughly chop them fairly finely. Peel and finely dice the remaining garlic and fry at a low temperature for just a minute or so, before adding the mushrooms and some salt, stirring everything together and cooking until the mushrooms release their moisture and cook down into mush. Cook as much of that water off as you can, then blend the mixture with a fairly good whack of butter and adjust the seasoning if required, black pepper included. You can also add some cream when you add the butter, but it isn’t necessary.


  • In a low-medium, oiled pan, fry a few of the sage leaves with some salt until they go crisp. This will only take a few minutes, so keep the temperature fairly low and keep your eye on them.


  • Pre-heat an oven to about 180c. If it’s a little higher or lower due to other components of the dish cooking, it won’t make too much of a difference, as long as it isn’t substantial. Make a series of parralel slices into the fat of the duck, not cutting through into the flesh. Season both sides with salt and place the duck face down in a cold, clean pan, then turn the heat up to medium high and cook the duck for about 8 minutes or until the fat is wonderfully golden brown. Turn it over and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side, then place it in the oven for a further 3 – 5. Rest for a few minutes, then serve.

Cavolo Nero

  • Once the duck is cooked, finely slice the cavolo nero and quickly cook it in the pan in which the duck had cooked, adding some finely chopped garlic and any additional seasoning you might require. Add extra oil if required.
Keyword Apricot, Apricot Sauce, Arancini, Dauphinoise, Duck, Duck breast, Pan Fried Duck, Pan Fried Duck Breast, Parsnip Dauphinoise, Roast Duck, Roast Duck Breast

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