Main Dish

Duck Breast with Zin and Cherry Reduction

Gustafson Family Vineyard

34 North St.
Healdsburg, CA 95448

We often enjoy family-style dinners at the Gustafson estate, where owner Dan Gustafson serves as host and chef to our growing staff. This delicious duck recipe quickly became a staff favorite, and it pairs particularly well with our estate Zinfandel. Serve with chunks of rustic ciabatta bread and a fresh seasonal salad for a fantastic meal.


  • 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup Zinfandel
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
If you have seared a cut of meat, drain the excess fat from the pan and prepare this recipe in the same pan. A clean pan will also work.

To make the demi-glace, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, combine the stock, wine, shallot, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaf. Simmer until reduced by half and thick enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Keep the demi-glace warm while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Leftover demi-glace can be frozen for later use. 

Duck Breast and Reduction

  • 6 skin-on Maple Leaf duck breast halves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 2 cups Zinfandel
  • 1/2 cup demi-glace (see recipe above)
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
To make the duck breast and reduction, preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Rinse the duck breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, score the skin in a crosshatch pattern, taking care not to cut into the meat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, combine the dried cherries, wine and demi-glace. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain the mixture, reserving the cherries for garnish, and return the liquid to the sauté pan. Set over low heat and add the butter, stirring to incorporate (the butter can be omitted if the demi-glace is sufficiently rich). Keep the Zinfandel reduction warm.

In an oven-safe sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook until the fat has rendered and the skin is crispy and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes more. Transfer the duck to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut the duck breasts into slices, top generously with the Zinfandel reduction and garnish with the reserved cherries. Serve with your favorite sides.