This festive duck roast is stuffed with a delicious sweet-and-sour cherry filling. Slideshow: Main Course Alternatives to Thanksgiving Turkey
Lightly season the duck breasts all over with salt and set them skin side down on a large baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered until the meat looks shiny, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until just starting to brown, 4 minutes. Add the dried sour cherries and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and just starting to caramelize, 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and 1/4 cup of water and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, 3 minutes. Fold in the parsley and thyme and season the stuffing with salt and pepper. Let cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Set the duck skin side down on a work surface. Spread the cherry stuffing over the breasts evenly. Fold over one side of each breast to enclose the stuffing and tie them in 5 places with kitchen twine to make 4 neat roasts.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet. Season the roasts all over with pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until the skin is browned and nearly crisp, 10 to 12 minutes; spoon off the excess fat in the skillet as needed.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the duck for about 12 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each breast registers 118° to 120°. Transfer the duck breasts to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Snip off the kitchen twine. Thinly slice the roasts crosswise and serve.
The sour cherry stuffing can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.
Ask your butcher for whole boneless duck breasts. They are also available online from D'Artagnan (dartagnan.com) or Grimaud Farms (grimaudfarms.com).
The classic pairing of duck and Pinot Noir works especially well here, thanks to the sour cherries. Try one from Santa Barbara.