Grilled Duck Breasts with Savory Cranberry Merlot Sauce and Yam Raviolis

Inspiration at our stove comes from many places… and it was a recent Saturday morning cooking show that provided the jumping off point for the creation of this succulent and tasty dish, Grilled Duck Breasts with Savory Cranberry Merlot Sauce and Yam Raviolis.  We were particularly intrigued by the fact that this wonderful cranberry sauce that marries so well with the grilled duck breasts contains very little sweetener and has the character of a rich pasta sauce, completely unlike the cranberry sauce we so readily associate with the Thanksgiving turkey.  A surprise ingredient is the addition of very finely minced lemon grass at the beginning of the preparation… it is absolutely delicious!  It is also a perfect accompaniment to sauce a pan roasted pork tenderloin, we’ve discovered.  In addition, a tablespoon or two added to a pan gravy adds a richness and complexity that is simply unforgettable!  To complete this magnificent meal we added crispy and flavorful yam raviolis simply made with wonton skins filled with a seasoned mixture of roasted yams and quickly deep fried till golden.  We appreciated the simplicity of the preparation that was involved in creating this dish as well as the beautiful presentation on the plate.  Most of all, however, we reveled in the glorious combination of flavors that made for a memorable evening of home dining! 

Grilled Duck Breasts with Savory Cranberry Merlot Sauce and Yam Raviolis

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  • 1 large yam, approximately 1 1/2 lb, or two smaller ones

Coat the skin with shortening, place in a metal pie tin and roast for 1 hour.  While the yam is roasting reconstitute for the ravioli filling:

  • 1/2-oz dried Porcini mushrooms

Place the dried mushrooms in a glass measuring cup.  Add to just cover the porcinis:

  • low sodium chicken stock

Heat on high in the microwave for 1 minute.  Remove and allow to stand for 20 – 30 minutes.  Drain the mushrooms through a fine sieve, reserving the liquid.  Chop them coarsely and set aside to add to the filling.  Prepare the savory cranberry sauce:

  • 1 stalk lemon grass 

Using a meat pounder or a small cast iron skillet thoroughly smash the white portion of the lemon grass.  The tough and fibrous root end will pop out… discard it.  Finely mince the white portion only with a sharp chef’s knife:

In a large saucepan over moderately high heat add:

  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil

When the oil begins to shimmer add:

  • the minced lemon grass
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 8 – 10 whole peeled garlic cloves, finely minced

Saute until the mixture becomes soft and translucent.  Add:

  • 1 12-oz package fresh cranberries

Chef’s Note:  If you happen to have a package or two of cranberries in your freezer be sure to first defrost them under cool running water.

Cook until the berries begin to soften and pop open:

Season with:

  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  • 2 1/2 C good quality merlot (we suggest Clos du Bois)

Bring to a simmer then allow to reduce in volume by 75 %, approximately 20 – 30 minutes.  Add:

  • 4 C low sodium chicken stock

Bring to a simmer and reduce the volume by 50%, approximately 20 – 30 minutes.  Midway through this reduction add:

  • 1 heaping T minced fresh thyme leaves
  • the reserved porcini soaking liquid

Continue cooking until reduction is complete.  Sauce will be thick and a spoon or whisk drawn through it will leave a trail on the bottom of the pan:

Remove from heat and stir in:

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 2 T blue agave syrup
  • 3 T unsalted butter

Stir to thoroughly incorporate.  Cover pan to keep sauce warm and set aside.

When the yam is thoroughly roasted peel off the skin, being careful to not burn your hands, and place in the food processor.  Add:

  • 2 T unsalted sweet butter
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Process till smooth.  Season with:

  • salt and white pepper, to taste

Pulse quickly to blend then add:

  • 1 handful wild arugula, coarsely chopped
  • the reserved Porcini mushrooms

Pulse one or two times only to mix in the arugula and porcinis without pureeing them.  Open:

  • 1 package wonton skins

In a small bowl whisk until frothy:

  • 1 large egg

Place as many wontons on a flat surface as you plan to use and spoon 2 tsp of yam filling onto the center of each… do not overfill.  Coat the edges of each with the egg wash, cover with a second wonton and seal the edges well to prevent leakage during deep frying:

Cover the raviolis with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out before deep frying.  Meanwhile, rinse and pat dry:

  • 2 Muscovy duck breasts

Season with:

  • All Purpose Meat Rub

While the grill is heating to cook the duck place in a rondo or Dutch oven:

  • 6 C peanut oil

Slowly heat the oil to 360 degrees.  While the oil is heating grill the duck breasts, skin side down first.  Watch them closely so as not to burn the skin with flare-ups.  Grill to an internal temperature of 140 degrees:

Remove the breasts from the grill and tent with foil on a cutting board.  While the duck is resting deep fry the raviolis without crowding them in the pan… this will go very quickly.  Turn them as necessary to bring them to a golden brown on both sides.  Transfer to a wire rack placed in a sheetpan to prevent them from becoming soggy.  Slip the pan into the oven still hot from baking the yams while slicing the duck.  Spoon the warm savory cranberry sauce onto a serving plate and top with the sliced duck.  Arrange two or three of the raviolis on the plate and dust with:

  • freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Serve immediately… Bon Appetit!

Copyright 2010 Via Aurea Designs, Inc., All Rights Reserved



Categories: Duck

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!


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