Duck Breasts with Pinot Noir and Cherry Sauce

Extravagant name, extravagant dish! While perfect for your vegan holiday table, this recipe can also be a year-round classic to satisfy your palate and hone your cooking skills. Thanks heavens for mock duck, which serves as a meaty, smoky vessel for the true star of this dish: the rich, flavorful sauce.

While relatively simple to make, the sauce does take a bit of technique and caution as you're going to be making a gastrique...tres gourmet!

Start by caramelizing the sugar, which is tricky because there's a fine line between caramelized and burnt...and sugar can burn very easily. My best advice would just be to watch it carefully; it shouldn't take any longer than 5 minutes. When the color is golden, remove from the heat and add red wine vinegar and dried cherries. Here's where you'll want to watch your skin and eyes: the vinegar will react and spatter, and it will be hot! Try not to use a spoon to stir the mixture, as the sugar will harden on it, and it will take some work trying to melt it off. Instead, gently shake the pot, coating the cherries and mixing everything up.

Now for the easiest part of the recipe: sauteeing the mock duck. I found mine in the refrigerated section of my local Asian market, for only about $4 a pound. Many varieties are "smoked with tea leaves," which gives it a smoky herbal flavor on top of an already-sweet taste. The texture can be a bit rubbery, so just find a good brand that works for you (or, try using tofu or seitan). Slice it to about 1/4-inch thickness, season with salt and pepper, and saute in hot oil for a few minutes on each side until crisp and browned. Remove from the pan, and keep warm.

For the second part of the sauce, saute shallots and garlic in olive oil, then add wine and boil until reduced. Add vegetable broth, and reduce again. Strain this into the cherry sauce and simmer. Finally, stir in soy creamer and simmer until it's completely dissolved.

Serve the sauce over the mock duck slices, and prepare to be amazed. The richness of the sauce works well with the meatiness of the duck. It's sweet and winey, and almost has a savory, buttery note from the olive oil and shallots. The cherry flavor is strongly pronounced, which seems to be further intensified by the earthy, berry notes of the pinot. Bon appetit!

Duck Breasts with Pinot Noir and Cherry Sauce
(adapted from , October 2008)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb mock duck, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups pinot noir
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup soy creamer
Combine sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, about 1-2 minutes. Continue cooking 5 minutes without stirring until golden; watch carefully that the sugar doesn't burn. Remove from heat; carefully add in cherries and vinegar (be careful, it will react and splatter) and gently shake pan until cherries are coated. Place pan over low heat to melt any remaining caramelized sugar.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season mock duck on both sides with salt and pepper. Add duck to pan, and cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Return skillet to medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, shallots, and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring frequently. Add wine to pan; increase heat to medium-high. Bring mixture to a boil; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup (about 6 minutes). Add broth; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 6 minutes). Pour wine mixture through a fine sieve into cherry mixture; discard solids. Bring cherry mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in cream; simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Serve sauce over duck. Serves 4-6.


  1. Sounds great!

  2. Are you kidding me?! I love it!!!

  3. Anonymous10/6/12, 8:47 AM

    mock duck? this is not a recipe.

  4. Really? Because I'm pretty sure that people who eat meat would call something like this a recipe if it was made with duck flesh.

  5. Entertaining meat eaters is somewhat a "challenge" to me, as I'd like ppl to feel comfortable while enjoying the meal with whatever they choose/ decide to eat! It's been a bit harder for me to do this though, as I really wish ppl would actually read/ research into the meat/ dairy/ egg industry. Anyway, I haven't hosted a Thanksgiving meal for this reason, but this year, I've decided to host one. I'm thinking that by introducing vegan meal, then ppl would start wanting to get themselves familiarize with vegetarian/ vegan foods. And this recipe sounds just like the one I'd like to consider making for family. Thanks for posting it! It looks wonderful!

    1. I know that this is an older thread, but, I've just came scross it - so, I'll battle on gung-ho! My ex-wife was a veggie when we met - I was a confirmed meat eater. I, now, thoroughly enjoy many non-meat dishes (she, on the other hand, succumbed to the temptation of bacon and then most other meats!) I cooked most of our meals and didn;t have a problem using a vegetarian ingredient list. She bought me a pack of lamb chops most paydays! Back to business - My lovely boss just made me some mock abalone (mockalone as she calls it!), it was fabby! I think I'll try the mock duck! Animal killers and live vegetable pluckers can walk hand in hand sometimes!