On Seared Duck Breasts and Butternut Squash Risotto

Dear readers,

It’s not often that I get fancy, but when I do, I go ALL OUT! The reason for going all out on fancy dining? Fun-employment! In between jobs in late February, I gave myself 2 weekdays to do a) nothing, b) sleep, c) nothing, d) bake (so not nothing, lol), and e) cook super complicated things that would normally need more time than I normally have on hand like ravioli (fail and no, I don’t plan to address this now as I plan to try again and will discuss my original failure then) or duck breast, which is something I’ve tried cooking before, and will cook again!

So why duck specifically? Because a couple of months ago, Frankie and I attended a whiskey tasting in which each pour was paired with a small bite, one of which was a very thinly sliced duck breast with a sour cherry glaze. IT WAS AMAZING and so good I thought, okay, how do I make this myself? So I started my research – the duck breast I knew already from watching Gordon Ramsey YouTube videos and trying it myself earlier, but the glaze, that was all over the map, but the way I ended up doing it was BOMB! Like…it was SO SO good!

Then I started to look into what I could pair with the duck, and recently I had had lunch with some past co-workers at my old firm at Ema, where I ordered the butternut squash risotto. Ta da! That’s perfect and I’ve never made it before, so onto the menu it went. And now for another veggie…butternut squash and duck…Brussels sprouts? Mmm not Frankie’s favorite…asparagus? Mmmm, no, and no to broccoli…so what’s green and a veggie that would work….GREEN BEANS! Of course! Perfect – now we cook! And cook I did, and enjoy the whole thing we did too…so, so, good – I even took a cute photo in front of the flowers I got on my last day and the wine glasses we had made for a virtual wine tasting event I ran back in early 2021! So cute!

P.S. Don’t forget that you can order cookies from me directly from my Cookie Order Page on this very same blog! (Yes, shameless plug, but I need to keep pushing it!)

Hoping you are safe and well!

— Cooking Maggie

Seared Duck Breast with Red Wine Cherry Glaze, Butternut Squash Risotto, and Roasted Green Beans


Duck & Red Wine Cherry Glaze

  • 2 duck breast halves
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 8 pitted cherries (fresh or frozen, thawed – I used frozen so I got a lovely mixture of red and deep red)
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I love Cabernet Sauvignon myself)
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom honey (you can find this with the honey in the breakfast aisle – use regular honey if you can’t find orange blossom, but orange blossom just tastes better)

Butternut Squash Risotto

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, more to taste
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 cups warmed vegetable broth (I love Swanson’s because they don’t use mushrooms)
  • Optional: chopped sage leaves for garnish

Roasted Green Beans

  • 1 bag of green beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  1. For the Beans Part 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a bowl, mix your green beans with the oil, salt, and pepper. Lay the beans in as single of a layer as possible on the baking sheet and set aside for the moment.
  2. For the Duck Part 1: Using sharp knife, score skin in 3/4-inch diamond pattern (do not cut into flesh), then sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides and set aside while you get the risotto going.
  3. For the Risotto: In a small pot, get your veggie broth going so it’s warm. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and several grinds of pepper, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant/translucent. Add the butternut squash and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t burn. Add the garlic, sage, and the rice. Stir and let cook for about 1 minute to toast the rice then add the wine. Stir and cook for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the wine cooks down, then add the broth one scoop or 1/2 cup at a time, and stir frequently to allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next. Cook until the butternut squash is tender, and the risotto is soft and creamy. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste, garnish with additional chopped sage.
  4. For the Beans Part 2: At this time, put your beans in the oven and cook for 15 minutes till blistered (may need a couple minutes more depending on your preference for doneness).
  5. For the Duck Part 2: When you’ve added your last spoonful of broth, get your duck going. Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a cast iron skillet (or a heavy skillet, but cast iron really is the best for the duck) over medium-high heat. When melted, add your duck skin side down and cook until skin is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn duck breasts over, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes. (If you want to get really fancy, you can tip the pan and baste the skin with the drippings and butter to keep it warm and crispy. I also sometimes re-flip back to the skin for an additional minute to make sure it’s as crispy as possible.) Transfer to a clean cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes, tented under foil to keep it warm.
  6. For the Sauce: In the skillet with the duck drippings, add the shallots over medium heat, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broth, cherries, wine, and honey. Increase heat to high and boil until sauce is reduced to a glaze, stirring often, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. To Serve: Add a scoop of the risotto, then top to the side with the green beans. Thinly slice duck, and fan them out on top of the risotto on the plate, then top with the sauce. Serve remaining sauce on the side for folks who want more of it (we definitely did). Serve as well the remaining red wine you used to make the sauce!

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