Duck Breasts Mirepoix

THERE isn’t anything about this dish that doesn’t make me…quack. It’s elegant enough for a weekend dinner party, but fast and easy enough to prepare for a weekday meal. And it’s screamingly-delicious.

Three very important notes:

Note #1. Mirepoix, (pronounced “meer-PWAH”),  is the French term for diced, aromatic vegetables.

Note #2. Casually mention “mirepoix” on a crowded train, and a handsome stranger will smother you with kisses.

Note #3.  Enough dithering. Let’s make this succulent succulence!

Here’s the step-by-step recipe, followed by a (photo-less) copy-and-paste version:

To start, grab 4 large carrots, and dice them into 1/2-inch cubes.

Tip: To busy to dice carrots? Buy already-cut carrot sticks (available in the produce section at most supermarkets), and simply slice them crosswise. Et voila — diced carrots!

Also dice up 6 stalks of celery (or lovage)…And one red onion.

Throw the diced veggies into a cast-iron skillet, and mix them up with your hands. Then lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Now take a couple of fresh duck breasts, and lay them atop the veggies, skin-side up.

Where to buy duck breasts? I obtain mine from a local farm store.  But Whole Foods sells them, too. In NYC, they are available at Fairway (my favorite supermarket when I lived on the Upper West Side).

Dust the duck with salt, pepper, and some fragrant dried herbs — I use marjoram, thyme leaves, and rosemary, one 1/2 teaspoon of each. Triple the amount for fresh, chopped herbs.

Roast the works in a preheated 350°F oven for exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes.

As the duck cooks, its fat will drip into the vegetables, and infuse them with amazing flavor. Meanwhile, the duck will roast to succulent perfection, and its skin will turn brown and crisp.

In other words, everything in the skillet will be yummy.

Serve this entree with plentiful goblets of Pinot Noir, and a side of wild rice.

Now do me proud, and make this poetry, okay?

And for your convenience, here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:

Duck Breats Mirepoix
Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for 2 servings (recipe may be doubled or tripled)
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
6 celery stalks, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
Kosher salt and grinds of black pepper
2 fresh duck breasts
Herbs: dried marjoram, thyme leaves, and rosemary — 1/2 teaspoon of each (triple the amount for fresh, chopped herbs)

Special Equipment: An oven-proof skillet, such as well-seasoned cast-iron

Set oven rack at the lower-middle position; preheat the oven to 350°F.

1.Put the diced veggies, or “mirepoix,” in the skillet, and toss them about to mix. Give them a light sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

2. Lay the duck atop the mirepoix, skin-side up. Dust with salt, pepper, and herbs.

3. Roast in the preheated oven for exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes.

4. Pass out from pleasure.

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More fabulous food:
Dreamy Cinnamon Rolls
Angelic Zucchini Fritters
Snowshoe Naan


  1. Where does one find fresh duck breasts? Country living has its limitations. Looks wonderful!

  2. Hi Paula – If your local supermarket doesn’t carry fresh, organic duck breasts, yell at them until they do! (In a pinch, you can use frozen breasts. Thaw before cooking.)

  3. Would this recipe work for a whole duck?

  4. Duck is one of those dishes I don’t make nearly enough, but am inspired to put it on my next grocery list to try this delicious sounding recipe!

  5. Duck is my favourite of favourites. If you are dealing with a whole duck you might try quartering and rendering first by steaming for about 40 minutes, then into a preheated skillet. The rendered fat should be saved to make everything taste heavenly. Way better than bacon fat and makes an awesome pate if you grind the organs….

  6. There were two ducks in my backyard pond yesterday. I couldn’t even read your recipe today. 🙂

  7. Melissa says:

    I don’t have a heavy oven-proof skillet (Yes I know I should, but I got rid of it since I never used it), can I use a glass baking dish or a stone roasting pan?

    Thank you so much Kevin for such yummy recipes that I can fix for my family that fit into our new Paleo lifestyle! Your Chicken Thighs en Papillote is great (and easy) too!

  8. Hi Melissa – A glass or stone roasting pan will work. Heck, even a casserole dish will do the trick!

  9. despina says:

    Looks so easy. I can do this after work.

  10. Looks absolutely delish
    Guess I’ll have to go check out Whole Foods now. Wonder if my Grands will eat it, if I don’t tell them first, what it is. 🙂

  11. Ardelle says:

    We originally were farmers raising dairy cows, pigs, chickens for both eggs and meat. I decided to raise Peking ducks one year for meat. The were very nice to have around and my 2 young children loved them – TOO MUCH – they turned into PETS! When it came time to butcher them in the fall the crying never ended. After butchering one of them we had to give them to someone that could butcher them and enjoy them. Never make pets out of animals you intended to serve for Sunday dinner. It was really sad. I still love well prepared duck but even as adults my children will never eat duck. Strange, they had ‘pet’ pigs and cows but that never seemed to bother them.
    Also, too many restaurants do not do a great job of preparing duck. Kevin, thank you for the recipe – it sounds wonderful – will pull out the Le Creuset cast iron pan and try it in the fall on a cold rainy day – sounds perfect.

  12. Ardelle says:

    Mathew Davis – interesting idea about rendering off the fat. I have recently started using chicken fat in place of lard in my bread. Guests can not identify what I’ve been doing different and for now I’m not telling. Believe me it does taste so much better than bacon for sautéing – try the bread – it is really nice. Tell me more about pate – grinding the organs?? My grandfather was a butcher – originally from Germany where that was highly respected profession – and used EVERYTHING to make some delicious gourmet sausage, pate, etc. Dare I say sautéed brains and eggs for breakfast? YUMMMMM! Does anyone know the title of the recently published book about using the entire animal?
    Kevin, I love your column – and as an interior designer/remodeling contractor – I love your house. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who restores – vs. remodels – a treasured old home. It can be expensive but many times well worth it. I look forward to your weekly column.

  13. Yummy! Can’t wait to fund those breasts,

  14. This dish looks absolutely divine – I’m on to it.

    Can you tell me the difference between kosher salt and regular salt – we don’t have kosher salt here in Australia (I don’t think) but I’ll buy some online if it makes a real difference.

  15. Margaret says:

    I have access to as many duck breasts as I want for free. The problem is they are wild ducks and my son and his hunting friends just yank out the breast with out skin. He did me one with the skin still on and there was absolutely no fat under the skin. I’m not sure how to use all the recipes I see for duck breasts because they all are referring to fat farm grown ducks. What I do with them most of the time is cut across the breast making short “fingers”. I pepper them heavily and dip into a soy sauce based local steak sauce, wrap in bacon, dip again and grill. They are wonderful but I want to use this type of recipe with the wild duck. Any suggestions?

  16. Hi Margaret – I’ve tried this recipe dozens of times (we love it here), but always with skin-on breasts from organic, farm-raised ducks. Since wild duck has less fat, you might make up the difference by wrapping the breasts in bacon (as you mentioned) or drizzling the works with 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter. In any event, if you try a different version of my recipe, let me know how it works out for you!

  17. Addie B. in FL says:

    Hi, Kevin – this sound great, but isn’t that a lot of vegetables for two servings? I’d have thought
    half that amount would be plenty, but maybe you are just big vegetable eaters. 🙂

    I always look forward to reading your site – thank you!

  18. I have only had duck once, when I was a teenager. Well, not really. I had to clean the whole bird from the field. That in itself was an awful experience. Then, by the time I made the wonderful meal….I did not want to eat the bird. So, I think I will watch for it at our Whole Foods and give it a try….already cleaned ;o) This really looks and sounds delicious!

  19. Accolades and big props on the duck. I invited a couple over for dinner and i was a bit nervous as I enjoy them and would like to get to know them better. I never made duck before but decided to see if I could swing it. SOOOOOOO so delicious. I followed the recipe to the 10 and hovered over the stove so I could take it out EXACTLY an hour and 20 min. My guest actually crooned and made noises of admiration with the taste and the skin. The skin was perfect and the fat that came off into the vegetables was just buttery fatty goodness. Simple, easy and elegant . Thumbs up. I’m getting bored with what I have been cooking so I set alittle goal for myself which is to choose two hings you profile under recopies and make them, Next I am making the asparagus/mushroom/cheese torte.

  20. Wonderful dish. Both my partner and I loved it and I’ll definitely make it again. He is particularly fond of crispy duck skin so to be sure I browned the duck, skin side down, first. I then found it was cooked after 40 mins. So my question is: if I hadn’t browned the duck, would the skin have been crispy after the recommended 1hr 20 mins?

  21. Hi Ava — So glad you and your guests enjoyed the duck!

    LynnB – I made this ducky-ness again last Saturday for 6 guests. The skin is indeed crisp after the recommended cooking time — 1 hr 20 min. Whether it is as crisp as when you brown it first in a skillet, I do not know. I’ve never tried it that way.

  22. I made this for Sunday dinner and I have to say that this is the BEST and easiest duck I have ever made. THANK YOU Kevin! I love duck, and this recipe even made my hubby a fan. You’ve ever steered me wrong with your recipes. Yours is the only blog that I follow regularly, both for recipes and for gardening.

  23. Correction. NEVER steered me wrong. Not ever. Sorry!

  24. Kevin – I am making this tonight for the umpteenth time. So much reward for so little effort. Just wanted you to know that it has become a staple in our house. Once a fortnight at least!!!!!!

    Keep up the good work!

  25. I have had this page marked ever since you first posted it, and have *finally* located some close-to-me, affordable duck breasts. This is on the menu for sometime in the next two weeks! I cannot wait!

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