Pan-Seared Duck with a Savory Cherry Compote

We have enjoyed many different preparations of duck, especially during our time and Europe. Although restaurants here in Colorado tend to offer various meals of game, it isn’t necessarily easy to find them in the store. While we were living in Frankfurt, our butcher always had lamb, duck, goose, and other gamier items available, but unfortunately it just isn’t the case here. We were able to get a whole duck, but since we were just cooking for the two of us, we decided to cut it into parts which gave us a boneless duck breast and a duck thigh with the leg still on. We often cut up a whole chicken, but duck is a little more difficult, although worth the effort. By cutting the duck into pieces, it allows you to pan sear it as opposed to roasting it and that makes it even more tender. We froze one half of the duck to have at a later date and cooked up the breast and thigh for dinner. Duck goes really well with fruits such as orange or cherry, so we made a cherry compote to go with the duck. The compote (or sauce) was more savory than sweet, which is what we prefer. It was extremely delicious and definitely reminded us of duck that we’ve eaten during several of our travels.

Ingredients for the Cherry Compote


  • 1/2 Duck – breast deboned and thigh deboned with the exception of the leg (if you can get two deboned breasts, that would work as well)
  • 1 Shallot – chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves – minced
  • 1 cup Cherries – fresh or frozen, pitted
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp Cherry Preserves
  • 2 tsp Honey – preferably fresh or organic
  • 2 tsp Rosemary – chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Duck Leg in Florence


Using a very sharp knife, score the skin of the duck. Season the duck with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of the rosemary. Let the duck come to room temperature. While the duck is coming up to room temperature, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pot. Add the shallots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the shallots are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute just to let the garlic bloom. Add the cherries, cherry preserves, chicken stock, honey, and the remaining teaspoon of rosemary. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes while the duck is cooking. When the sauce has slightly thickened, add the butter and lemon juice and keep warm until the duck is finished. Heat the vegetable oil in a cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat. Place the duck skin-side down and don’t touch it until the skin has released from the bottom of the skillet, at least 5 to 10 minutes. Once the skin is browned and the fat has rendered, turn the heat down to medium and flip the duck over to finish cooking, about another 8 to 10 minutes (or until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees). To serve, drizzle the cherry compote over the duck and place the rest in a bowl for people to add more as they eat.

Pan-Seared Duck
Simmering Cherry Compote
Pan-Seared Duck with Cherry Compote

Pork Chops with Cherry Compote

One of the things that we found throughout Europe were meals with a fruit sauce that accompanied the meat. Often times it was something a little gamey like duck or lamb, but it is a combination that works well with chicken and pork also. Cooking the fruit down to an almost jam-like consistency provides a nice fruity counterbalance to the taste of the meat. We cooked pork chops and basted them with butter and oil as they seared in order to keep them moist and tender. This particular recipe serves two people, but it is easily adjusted to serve more. It would be great with skin-on chicken thighs as well.

Sautéed Pork Chops


  • 2 Pork Chops – thick cut
  • 3 cups Cherries – pitted (we used frozen cherries)
  •  3 tbsp Granulated Sugar
  •  1/2 tsp White Wine Vinegar
  •  2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  •  1 tsp Lemon Zest
  •  1 tsp Dried Thyme
  •  1 tsp Garlic Powder
  •  2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  •  2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  Salt and Pepper to Taste

Cherry Mixture


In a small sauce pan, combine the cherries, sugar, vinegar, 1 tablespoon rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, gently stirring, until the mixture is thick, but keeping the cherries mostly intact, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and put the compote into a bowl and let stand to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours or over night. Season both sides of the pork chops with the remaining rosemary, thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and begins to simmer. Carefully place the pork chops into the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pork chops and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, basting them with the butter and oil frequently to keep them moist and tender. Place the pork chops onto serving plates and spoon half of the cherry mixture over each.

Cherry Compote

Seasoned Pork Chops

Moist Pork Chop

Pork Chop with Cherry Compote