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Duck breast with balsamic vinegar

  • 35 minutes
  • Medium
  • Second Courses
A holiday classic, Italian-style.

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 1 ½ lb duck breast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • thyme
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar of Modena


Start by placing the duck breast on a clean work surface.

Using a pair of tweezers, carefully remove any remaining feathers.

Trim the breast of any excess fat and skin, giving the breast a nice, even shape.

Carefully make small incisions in the skin so that the meat cooks evenly.

Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Place a nonstick frying pan over high heat.
Once hot, sear the duck breast, skin side down.
The fat in the skin will melt, helping to cook the rest of the breast without adding additional fat.

Once the skin is golden, flip it over and let brown.

In the meanwhile, quarter the onions and add them to the pan.
Also add 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, so that they don’t burn during cooking, the sage, thyme and rosemary.
If you want, you can also add the fat and skin trimmings from before.
This will help to make a nice sauce.

At this point, place the duck breast in 375 degree F oven for 13 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the breast.

Once the breast is cooked, wrap it in aluminum foil to keep it warm while it rests and you prepare the sauce.

Remove the excess fat from the frying pan and return the pan to the heat, adding the honey and balsamic vinegar to the herbs.

Reduce for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat and pass the sauce through a strainer.
Press down lightly on the herbs to extract their aromas.

Now, the sauce is ready.
Plate the duck by removing it from the foil and slicing.
Drizzle with the sauce and serve with a salad or other vegetables.

Buon appetito!

Food History

Since the end of the Middle Ages, records show the presence of a “tart syrup”, vinegar’s precursor, in the areas between Panaro and Secchia, near Modena, and around Reggio. The syrup was used for medicinal purposes, rather than culinary.

The first mention of vinegar used in the kitchen came in 1046, when Henry II stopped in Piacenza on his way to Rome to be crowned Emperor. Bonifacio, the marquis of Tuscany and father of Matilde of Canossa, gave Henry a special vinegar that he heard had turned out very well.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar DOP is made with must from Lambrusco, Trebbiano and other grape varieties grown in the province of Modena. The must is cooked over low heat until it is quite thick and dark brown.
The must is then left to rest, activating the natural fermentation.
The must is then transferred to rooms designed specifically for vinegar production called acetatie. In these rooms, the cooked must reduces in volume, ages and becomes more refined.

100 liters, or 26 gallons, of must is needed to make a couple liters of traditional balsamic vinegar and it takes at least three years for the must to finish the two phase fermentation process.
Good balsamic vinegar needs to be aged for at least another twelve years before use, and 30 to 50 to be considered sublime. Vinegar that has been aged for more than 25 years is called “extra vecchio”, or super old.

When the word tradizionale, or traditional, is missing from the label and instead reads “Aceto Balsamico di Modena”, it means that the vinegar was made from wine, not must, and requires less work during aging.
Mass produced balsamic vinegar costs considerably less.

Both the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia have been recognized with the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) label from the European Union.

To learn more, click here:

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