Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Duck Breast with Cumberland Sauce for Valentine's Day

A sure way to warm my Valentine's heart was to cook a meal at home, and this was my first time cooking duck breast at home. It came out so good! I had never made a Cumberland sauce either.... read on. 

I made the Cumberland Sauce first, and It is so delicious that I will serve this on various meats (venison, pork, dark turkey meat, etc.) I finally found the jar of Lingonberries in our local health food store, as they are a delicacy from Sweden. The next time I make the sauce, I'm going to use whole cranberries in the can and compare the flavor. I think it will work, and it will be more cost effective.  

Recipe makes about 1 cup

  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. lingonberry preserves, red currant jelly can be substituted
  • 5 Tbsp. Tawny or Ruby Port (can substitute Vermouth)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard powder

Use a vegetable peeler or zester, remove the zest (peel) of the orange and lemon in wide strips 1 to 2 inches long, avoiding the white pith. Then slice the strips lengthwise into thin strips about 1/8  inch wide. Cut the orange and lemon in half, squeeze the juice out and reserve. Bring a small amount of water to a boil, add the sugar and the orange and lemon zest. Lower the heat and simmer the zest for about 3 minutes. Strain and reserve the zest. 

Using the same pot, add the juice of the orange and lemon, the preserves, port, ginger and mustard and stir. Bring to a simmer and cook until syrupy and thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes, then add in the reserved zest. Cool to room temperature and serve or refrigerate and serve cold. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

Next I cooked the duck, using the recipe from Karen Back Road Journal. I have tried several of Karen's recipes, and we've enjoyed them. The recipe serves two as a light entree or four as an appetizer, adjust the recipe accordingly.

  • 2 duck breast halves about 5 – 6 oz. each
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • field greens of your choice, I used baby arugula and baby spinach
  • Cumberland Sauce,.

Remove the duck from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes. Use a sharp knife and score the skin in a diamond pattern being careful not to cut into the flesh itself. The scoring helps render the fat and keeps the skin crisp during cooking.

Pat the duck dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. Place the breasts, skin side down, in a cold sauté pan and cook over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered and the skin is crispy and brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn over and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes until the internal temperature of the duck reaches 135 degrees for medium rare or cook to your liking. If you cook the duck breast to 155 degrees, it will be medium well and slightly pink. Let the duck rest about 10 minutes before carving. It can also be made the day ahead and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature and assemble just before serving. Toss mixed salad greens with a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Divide the greens among plates. Slice the duck thinly and fan a few slices out on top of the greens. Drizzle with some of the Cumberland Sauce and serve. Extra sauce can be served at the table. 

Debbie@Mountain Breaths
Debbie@Mountain Breaths

Hello, I'm Debbie.I enjoy hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the Adirondack Mountains (thus Mountain Breaths). I live in Upstate NY with my supportive husband and have three precious sons..


  1. Jacques loves duck!
    I love how you make VDAY so special..I did that for the first 10 yrs ;)Keep it going!

  2. I love duck too, but my favorite are duck legs. Yum! I saw Karen's post and was curious about Cumberland sauce. It sounds delicious and I like your idea of using whole cranberry sauce too. I love your romantic table setting! ♥

  3. There’s always another year to go to your favorite Key West, but you made the best of your anniversary with a wonderful dinner! You’ll be ready for your future trip with a cute, new bathing suit. ❤️

  4. Fancy! Wow, what an elegant Valentine's dinner!❤️

  5. You win the prize for the fanciest Valentine's Day dinner. Cumberland sauce sounds delicious! How did it get its name?

    1. Cumberland sauce is a fruit sauce, usually used on non-white meats, such as duck, venison, ham, and lamb. Coming out of the long-standing medieval tradition of piquant spicy fruit sauces rendered sharply sour with vinegar and served with meat, and created sometime in the 19th century. (Might have originated in Germany) It's quite delicious!

  6. Debbie, I'm so happy that you enjoyed the duck. I so appreciate your kind words about my recipes and what a compliment that you made the duck with Cumberland Sauce for such a special evening. Thank you! 😘


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