Roasted Duck Mole

Roasted Duck Mole Recipe

I love duck breast; I find it so juicy and flavorful. Recently, I prepared roasted duck molé and in my opinion, unsweetened dark chocolate was what made the dish. First, I pan-seared the duck, skin side down, and then finished roasting it in the oven. Using the same griddle from the duck, I prepared the sauce with a hint of spiciness.

The molé sauce provides a richly complex flavor to the meat with the seductive addition of chocolate. Chocolate doesn't only satisfy foodies with a sweet tooth; this molé sauce is a great example of a savory application for chocolate. 


Yields: 4 servings

4 duck breasts
juice of a lemon, pitted
1½ teaspoons coarse salt
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly cracked
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, freshly grated
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon cumin seeds, dry-toasted
molé sauce (recipe follows)


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, ginger, honey, vinegar, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper.

Using a sharp knife, score the fat of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern. Baste the meat side of the duck with half the lemony mixture. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let it come back to room temperature before cooking.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Season the meat side with salt and pepper. Place the probe of a digital oven-proof thermometer in the center of one of the pieces. Set the thermometer at 145-155°F, depending on how pink you like the meat.

Warm a heavy-bottomed griddle pan over medium heat. Once the pan is smoking hot, place the duck breasts in the skillet, fat side down, to render off the fat, about 5 minutes. Flip the meat over and sear for 1 minute. Note: It's important that you not pierce the meat once it's seared, so it stays moist and tender. 

Using tongs, transfer the meat, fat side down again, to a baking pan lined with parchment paper and place into the oven to roast for 15-17 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 155°F.

Turn off the oven and remove the baking pan. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Let the meat sit for at least 15 minutes as the meat temperature will rise by a few degrees right after it's transferred from the oven (see tips). Transfer to a cutting board.

Thinly slice the duck; serve on a bed of mixed greens and drizzle with the molé sauce.

Bon appétit!


The lemon and vinegar act as a great meat tenderizer.

The final internal temperature of the duck shouldn't exceed 165°F.

For the molé sauce: In the same griddle pan used for the duck, heat about 2 tablespoons of the duck fat and add 1 chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add 1 clove garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in ½ cup canned tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, ½ teaspoon grated cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground cumin and 1 re-hydrated ancho chile. Let cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender, smoothing the mixture by adding ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth. Return to the pan. Add more broth if necessary. Finish with 1 ounce of unsweetened dark chocolate. Stir until smooth. 

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on February 24, 2015.


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