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Roasted Duck with Licorice-Merlot Sauce

Norman Laprise's bird of choice is corn-fed Barbary duck from Canada; Muscovy is a more readily available alternative. In the sauce, he uses licorice pastilles, which can be found at specialty food stores.

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  • Servings: 8

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  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 12 kumquats, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine, such as Merlot
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 8 small black licorice jelly beans
  • 2 pounds celery root—quartered, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 large Idaho potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon imported hazelnut oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 large Muscovy duck breasts, with skin (about 1/2 pound each)


  1. In a medium saucepan, simmer the honey over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the kumquats and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Strain the honey into a medium saucepan; reserve the kumquats separately.
  2. Add the wine and chicken stock to the honey and cook over moderate heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Add the jelly beans, remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand until the sauce has a nice licorice flavor, about 5 minutes. Discard the jelly beans.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, cover the celery root and potato chunks with water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Boil over moderately high heat until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the vegetables; return them to the saucepan and shake over high heat to dry out. Transfer the celery root and potato to a food processor and puree until smooth. Wipe out the saucepan and return the puree to it. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the butter and the hazelnut oil. Season with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.
  4. Heat a large skillet. Using a sharp knife, score the duck breast skin in a cross-hatch pattern. Season the breasts with salt and pepper and add 3 to the skillet, skin side down. Cook over moderate heat until the skin is deep brown and crisp, about 5 minutes; spoon off the fat once or twice. Turn the breasts and cook until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Transfer the breasts to a baking sheet, skin side down, pour off the fat from the skillet and repeat with the remaining breasts. Bake the duck in the oven for about 6 minutes, or until medium rare. Transfer to a carving board, skin side up, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Bring the licorice sauce just to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the duck breasts crosswise and arrange the slices on 8 large plates. Spoon the licorice sauce over the duck and top with the honeyed kumquats. Spoon the celery root puree alongside the duck and serve.

Suggested Pairing

A full-bodied, balanced California Merlot.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published October 1998

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