The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 04.28.04


Crispy balsamic breast of duck

It's that time of year when some days the weather is better suited to ducks.

The other evening on my way home from work I waited at a red light in the pouring rain and noticed that a few good-sized quackers had adopted a flooded area at the intersection of Highway 20 and Don Quichotte Boulevard.

The ducks were happily paddling about as if the pond had been constructed just for them while dipping their bills in search of surface food. I can only imagine what they pick up on that giant roadside puddle.

As is often the case, this scene got me thinking about dinner. How about a column that celebrates the arrival of spring and provides good barbecue fare, I thought. In anticipation of the big race on June 5 at the lock in Ste. Anne de Bellevue where some 12,000 ducks will race for glory, you can make this simple recipe at home in the oven or on the barbecue if the weather heats up.

Crispy balsamic duck

5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 4 duck breast halves, scored Salt, black pepper 1 tbsp. extra balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Scoring the duck skin with a sharp knife, cut diagonal parallel slashes 1/2-inch (1 cm) apart through skin to make a diamond pattern. Be careful not to pierce the meat.

Put five tbsp. vinegar in a shallow dish just wide enough to fit four breast halves. Add the duck breast halves, skin side up. Cover and leave to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature. Grill or roast according to instructions below. Cover with foil and leave to rest for five minutes before cutting into thin slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle over remaining balsamic vinegar. Serve hot.

Outdoor on the barbecue

Grill over medium coals, skin side down until the skin is crispy, for five minutes. Turn and grill for further eight minutes for medium rare, 10 minutes for well done.


Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Preheat a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add duck skin side down and cook until crispy, five minutes. Turn breasts and place pan in the oven for eight minutes for medium rare, 10 minutes for well done.

Think ahead: Marinate duck breasts up to two hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Makes four servings. Culinary comments?