Bring out the duck breasts and pat them dry. Turn them skin-side up and carefully cut a criss-cross pattern in the skin. Take care not to cut into the duck meat, but still cut as deep into the skin as you can. Season with salt and black pepper on both sides.
Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a cold pan without any oil or butter, then place the pan over medium heat. Allow the fat to render off until skin is crisp and golden and the fat has stopped seeping out of the duck skin. This takes 10-15 minutes. Pour off excess fat regularly while cooking and save for later.
Raise the heat to medium-high, flip the breasts over and sear skin-side up for 1 minute. Then sear quickly on the other sides of the duck breast and transfer them to an oven safe dish.
Orange Sauce (10 minutes)
Place the pan back over the heat and pour in some of the duck fat you rendered off. Add the orange juice, honey, sprigs of rosemary and garlic cloves. Bring to a simmer and let simmer until a bit sticky and reduced by half, this takes 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Turn off the heat and remove the garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary, then set aside for now.
Finishing the duck breasts in the oven (5-10 minutes if starting with a hot oven)
Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F.
Glaze the duck breasts with the orange sauce on both sides, then place skin-side up and stick in a meat thermometer. Place uncovered in the middle of the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until inner temperature is 58C/137F (for a pink center, see notes below for other temperatures).
Wrap the cooked duck breasts in aluminum foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the orange sauce.
Slice the duck breasts and serve topped with orange sauce and sea salt flakes.
Suggested cooking temperatures:
Rare: Cook to 53 C/128 F and let rest to reach 56 C/133 F
Medium: Cook to 58 C/137 F and let rest to reach 62 C/144 F
Well-done: Cook to 65 C/149 F and let rest to reach 70 C/158 F
Ingredient notes & substitutions
Duck breasts - make sure they're the skin-on kind
Oranges - we're just using the juice, so in a pinch you can sub in store bought orange juice. Or use another sweet citrus - like clementines.
Liquid honey - regular honey works as well
Rosemary can be swapped for thyme
Tips & tricks
Use a really sharp knife to score the skin
Render off the fat - it really is worth the time
Always start with a cold pan when rendering off the fat
Don't pour the fat straight down the drain as this might clog it - instead, pour it into a bowl to cool and either use to cook other things in, or:
Place it in the fridge to cool and solidify, then throw in the trash
Soak up with paper towels and throw them in the trash
Use an oven thermometer to get your duck to just the right temperature
Always take your duck out at a few degrees below the target temperature - in the recipe card below you will find suggestions for at what temperature to bring it from the oven as well.
Let your duck breasts rest for at least 5 minutes. This is the best way to ensure perfectly cooked, extremely juicy meat.
Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days - great cold or heated, as well as added to pastas, salads and thai curries