agret is the juicy breast of a duck, and it cooks up much like a steak; which is why we at D’Artagnan call it the "duck steak." If you can cook a steak, you can cook duck magret. It’s a perfect weeknight meal or special occasion dinner, and it's one of our favorite simple recipes. Read on to learn how to cook this delicious duck breast and the history of this culinary classic.
To Prepare Duck Magret
- Start with our famous Moulard Duck Magret, Half Breast.
- Trim away excess fat that extends beyond the edge of the meat if necessary. Then score the fat side in a cross-hatch pattern, without cutting all the way through to the meat, and season heavily with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron pan on high, and place the duck breast skin side down in the pan. No fat or oil is needed. Cook for about 8 minutes. Then lower the heat to medium and flip the breast over, cooking for about 4 minutes. Make sure the duck is not cooked beyond medium rare.
- Lots of duck fat will collect in the pan, so remove some of it and set aside or discard.
- Let the magret rest for five minutes, then slice into 1/8” slices and serve. Seared magret works well with all kinds of sauces and chutneys, and pairs with dark red wines like Malbec or Madiran.
- That duck fat you saved can be used to roast the best potatoes you will ever have.
What Is Duck Magret - The Long Answer
The magret refers to the breast of a Moulard duck that has been reared for foie gras. A Moulard duck is a cross between a Muscovy drake and a Pekin hen, and is a sizable bird with a well-developed breast. It also is the preferred duck used to produce foie gras, because of its large size and hearty constitution. Since Gascony, France is the heart of foie gras country, the Moulard duck is common in the cooking of the region.
Throughout history, the magret was made into confit, like the wing and leg of the duck, slowly cooked in duck fat and preserved. But in 1959, at the Hotel de France in Auch, two-star Michelin Chef André Daguin prepared a magret like a steak for the first time. Like many legendary moments in culinary history, this one came about by necessity one afternoon when a salesman arrived at the hotel restaurant for a late lunch. Chef Daguin found his kitchen bare of ingredients, but for a tray of raw magrets waiting to be cooked in fat. He grabbed one and seared it like a steak, then served it rare to the surprised patron, who shared the curious dish with two other customers just finishing their lunches. And thus was born a staple duck dish - found today on menus worldwide. Get the famous recipe for seared duck breast here.
A certain Ariane Daguin, who would grow up to establish D’Artagnan in America, learned many lessons from her chef father over the years, and still enjoys sharing how easy it is to prepare the "duck steak."