Recipe: Moulard Duck Breast with Roasted Root Vegetables

Perfect for those cold winter nights.

We’re in the home stretch for the Christmas holiday. Luckily for those who wish to keep their kitchen immaculate (and their sanity in check), there are plenty of restaurants across the country who will be open for business.

At one-starred Blue Duck Tavern in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, chef de cuisine Daniel Hoefler is serving up a three-course menu featuring an array of family-style starters followed by entrées like oven-roasted lobster with brown butter grits, and slow-roasted prime rib with caramelized chestnuts, smoked celery and quince ragout.

Not in the neighborhood? Not to worry—Hoefler has provided us his recipe for moulard duck breast with all the wintry trimmings, which will also be featured at Blue Duck Tavern this Christmas.

For those who are new to cooking duck breast at home, Hoefler's got a tip for you:

“Score the breast while chilled, cover and let them sit out for a bit until you are ready to cook them off,” he notes. “It’s way easier cooking proteins when they are tempered at room temperature, otherwise you have to ensure you let it rest long enough so it doesn’t leach or bleed out.” 

Moulard Duck Breast with Roasted Root Vegetables, Pickled Mustard Seeds & Jus
Courtesy of chef de cuisine Daniel Hoefler, Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.

Serves 4


For the Pickled Mustard Seeds:
120 grams mustard seeds
20 grams granulated sugar
100 milliliters Champagne vinegar
50 milliliters water
1 Tablespoon salt
1 garlic clove
1 sprig each of thyme and rosemary

For the Roasted Root Vegetables:
100 grams beet root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
100 grams parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
100 grams rainbow carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Extra-virgin olive oil
5 grams rosemary and thyme, chopped
5 milliliters lemon juice, freshly squeezed
10 grams parsley and chives, chopped

For the Red Wine Reduction:
400 milliliters red wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 thyme sprig
1 shallot, sliced

For the Duck Jus:
Duck trimmings
500 milliliters chicken stock
100 milliliters reserved red wine reduction

For the Duck and Assembly:
4 duck breasts, scored and cleaned
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
micro thyme leaves, for garnish


For the Pickled Mustard Seeds:
Soak mustard seeds in water for 30 minutes; strain and reserve in a bowl. In a stock pot over medium heat, add sugar, vinegar, water and aromatics, and cook until sugar has dissolved. Pour over reserved mustard seeds and infuse overnight.

For the Roasted Root Vegetables:
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Toss root vegetables with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven for 12 minutes; remove from oven and season with lemon juice, parsley and chives.

For the Red Wine Reduction:
Place all ingredients in a stock pot and reduce until you have 100 milliliters remaining; strain to remove the solids and reserve.

For the Duck Jus:
Add 3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil to a large roasting pan and raise heat to medium-high. Add duck trimmings and brown, turning occasionally, until golden in color. Add chicken stock, being sure to scrape up the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce stock until 1 cup remains; add reserved red wine reduction.

For the Duck and Assembly:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large sauce pan, place duck breasts skin-side down and raise heat to low. Render the fat from the duck breasts, making sure to remove excess grease, until skin is crispy. Remove from pan and let rest for 10 minutes.

For service, place duck breasts on a baking sheet and flash in the oven for 5 minutes; remove and let rest 3 to 4 minutes before slicing. Arrange root vegetables and pickled mustard seeds on a plate before adding duck breast. Finish with jus, fleur de sell and micro thyme. Serve immediately.

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