Ming Tsai’s Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney

I had a chance to chat with Asian superstar chef Ming Tsai a few weeks ago – andI’m too lame to learn how to turn our recorded phone convo (.wav format) into a podcast. Too busy too figure it out too! Plus, I’m a highly VISUAL person (can you tell?) and anything auditory does. not. compute.

Thanks to Lenny, the podcast with Chef Ming Tsai is up!


Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney Recipe

My parents are Buddhists but they’ve lived here in the United States since 1967 and have celebrated Christmas with food and presents every single year. When my brother and I were little, we believed in Santa Claus until the day I found my mother’s secret hiding place for gifts. I didn’t let on that I knew about the stash, as I totally enjoyed sneaking into the walk-in closet and wading my way through the piles of clothes, blankets and luggage to get to the booty in the back.

I’d just stare at the blonde Cabbage Patch Kid and Barbie doll convertible, caressing the box and counting down the days til Christmas Eve. So yeah, Christmas more about new toys back then and not so much the religious stuff.

On the other hand, my in-laws take Christmas seriously, and spend much of the month of December decking out the house with holiday lights and trinkets. You couldn’t sneeze without knocking over an angel or shorting out the dancing Santa.

At our home, I’d like to think we have a nice blend of traditions. For the past six years, we’ve hosted Christmukkah, as our good friends are Jewish and all but the Chinese take-out places are closed! My in-laws also come down to be with the family, and each time they make the trip they stuff an entire suitcase with more holiday decorations to hand down. I love it when Scott would show the boys the ornaments that were so carefully preserved and say, “I made this wooden reindeer in first grade!”

I got a chance to chat with celebrity Chef Ming Tsai and ask him about his holiday plans – he’s preparing a slow roasted lamb for his family and gave me some tips for my Christmukkah meal. I’m making Ming’s Seared Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney from his self-published book called Ming’s Master Recipes ( I tested the recipe a couple of weeks ago and holy holiday cheer, it was fabulous!

Ming says that the key to searing duck breast is to render, or melt away the fat first. This savory, delicious fat is used to cook the duck and also saute the potatoes. The Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney is the perfect blend of Ming’s signature east and west cooking.

Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney Recipe

Ming Tsai’s Seared Duck Breast with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney Recipe

Adapted from Ming’s Master Recipes by Ming Tsai

serves 4

4 duck breasts, fat trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-4 Yukon gold potatoes, either boiled or baked skin on 45 minutes at 350F
Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney (recipe below)

Use a sharp knife to score the skin on the duck breast several times, making 3-5 slashes on the diagonal then rotating knife to slash the other way, to make a slanted checkerboard of sorts. Score all the way through the fat, but take care not to cut through to the meat.

Place the duck breasts, skin side down in a large frying pan and then heat the frying pan on low heat. As the pan heats up, the fat will begin melting (rendering). Let fry until the skin is brown and crispy, about 7-10 minutes. Turn the heat to high and flip the duck meat side down. Fry for 3-5 minutes for medium rare. Flip the duck breasts again and sear for 3-5 minutes to re-crisp the skin. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Transfer to a plate, meat side down and let rest. In the same pan, with the luscious duck fat, turn the heat to high and add the potato slices.Serve with Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney.

For the Sweet and Sour Cranberry Chutney
1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a sauté pan over high heat. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cranberries, sugar and the rice vinegar. Simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. When cool, transfer to container and cover, store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.