/ by Stephanie Burnette / recipes by Chef Philip Bollhoefer / Photography and styling by  Chelsea Lane Photography

There is no reason not to cook duck at home. It’s poultry, something most of us excel at cooking in our kitchens.

If you think of duck as fatty chicken, then any recipe angst should quickly abate. We asked Chef Phillip Bollhoefer, from The Montford Rooftop Bar, for some kitchen acuity; to school us on cooking duck breast.

He liked the assignment. He thinks duck is extremely versatile and goes well with rich and acidic foods alike. “Duck can go with red wine or stewed cherries with scents of vanilla and orange,” he says, “or you can lean towards duck fat rosemary potatoes and stewed white beans.”

Likewise, pomegranates are about to roar into season. The bright globes filled with ruby arils are unmatched on a plate and yet the fruit often sits untouched in the produce bin. The name alone holds a bit of mystery; linguists point to either the color ‘garnet’ or the size and shape of an antiquated ‘grenade’ for its name.

Chef finds pomegranate especially useful in savory dishes. “They bring a bright acidity and crunch to otherwise rich foods. Pomegranate is a perfect pairing with duck preparations both roasted and braised.”

For a modern take, we offer a winter dressed salad as a plate mate for the sliced breast and a natural wine to complete what we think is a dining-out experience for the home.


Cook duck at home, no intimidation required:

  • sharpen your knife
  • score the fat
  • start with a cold pan
  • render the fat
  • roast in the oven
  • glaze on the stove stop
  • use a thermometer

Drink Carbonic Wine with Duck

It’s an ancient method, not modern science, that brings us these juicy expressive red wines ideal for duck.


Natural wine is made with minimal intervention. “Nothing is added or taken away, it is pure unaltered grape juice in its most ancient form,” says Lauren Helena of Curated Selections, a SC wine distributor focused on offering small production wines made with sustainable methods.


Helena picked J. Brix ‘Défier’ Carbonic Merlot to drink with our duck and pomegranate entrée. She describes the wine as youthful, with notes of ripe plum and black cherry, velvety tannins and dried herbs.

Only 60 cases are produced each year, but Curated Selections has brought it to independent Upstate bottle shops. She describes carbonic maceration as the anaerobic fermentation of a red grape that transforms it into an irresistibly fruity, low alcohol and food-friendly wine.


Broadly, the carbonic process ferments whole clusters of grapes, stems and all, without crushing or juicing in a sealed environment deprived of oxygen.


Chef Phillip Bollhoefer likes the pick, “Duck and pomegranate both pair well with carbonic macerated wine. The process brings out the fruit flavor in the grapes by forcing the fermentation process to happen internally in each individual piece of fruit.”


Natural wines have long been considered a labor of love and Helena says the time is ripe to explore the category. “We all should be drinking more wine that tells its story the moment you pull the cork,” she says.

Honey Lacquered Duck Breast with Winter Kale Salad and Lemon Tahini Dressing

Serves 4


For the duck

2-4        Duck breasts, based on size

1            Tbsp   Sourwood honey

1            Shallot, julienned

2            sprigs Fresh thyme

1            oz Red wine


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


Using a sharp knife, score the fat cap  of the duck breast vertically and horizontally every ¼ inch. The incisions should not go all the way through the fat, approx. 1/8”


Season the fat side of the duck breast with salt and pepper. Place the duck in a cold, stainless steel sauté pan fat side down.


Turn the heat on medium to medium low to slower render the duck fat, the process should take 6-8 minutes.


Once the fat has reduced by 2/3 and the skin is beginning to look golden brown, drain all but a thin layer of the fat out of the pan, season the flesh side with salt and pepper and place the duck still skin side down in the oven for approx. 8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 115 degrees.


Remove the duck from the oven, flip the breast and drain additional excess fat leaving only a thin layer to coat the pan. Return to stove over medium high heat.


Add shallots and thyme and cook for 45 seconds. Add honey and wine and simmer for 30 seconds and then baste the top of the duck breasts multiple times until the internal temperature has reached 130 degrees.


Remove from pan and allow to rest for at least five minutes. Slice the duck and serve immediately.


For the Salad

1            bunch Green curly kale, washed and julienned

1            Pomegranate

2            Oranges, peeled and cut into orange segments

2            oz Aged gouda, shaved

1/2       cup Toasted almonds

Lemon tahini dressing


Using a paring knife, cut the peel of the pomegranate starting at the top making a circle all the way around. The cut should just piece the skin without cutting into the seeds inside. Pull the pomegranate in half to expose the seeds.


Using your fingers, gently pull the seeds out of the fruit. Place the seeds in a bowl of cold water and all of the yellow flesh will float to the top to easily strain any mixed in with the seeds.


Combine kale, half the pomegranate seeds, orange segments, almonds and dressing in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Add remaining pomegranate seeds & the shaved gouda to finish.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

2            Tbsp    Shallot, raw

1/4       cup Lemon juice

1            tsp Dijon mustard

1            tsp Honey

1/2       tsp Lemon zest

1/2       tsp Orange zest [Note: Reserve the rest of this orange for the salad. ]

1/4       cup Tahini

1/4       cup Olive oil

1/8       tsp Ground cardamom

Salt and pepper, to taste


Combine all ingredients except tahini and olive oil in a blender and puree until smooth.


With the blender still running add the tahini and olive oil and blend until incorporated.