Crispy Duck Breast with Charred Kale Sprouts and Herbed Gnocchi

Kale sprouts are a cross between Russian kale and Brussels sprouts and add great flavor to the fall table but Brussels sprouts are equally delicious in this elegant and crowd-pleasing recipe. Once your ingredients are prepped and set beside the stove, it all comes together quickly. It can be served with or without the gnocchi, and that you can make in advance or buy fresh from the store.
By | September 12, 2016


To prepare the duck breasts score the skin lightly with a sharp knife (about 10 score marks in 1 direction and 10 in the other to form a diamond pattern). Salt the skin with a ½ teaspoon per breast. Place on a large plate, cover with cling wrap and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

In a pot of salted boiling water blanch the kale sprouts for 30 seconds. Transfer to ice water bath then drain and set aside. Pat duck breast dry and season each skin with pepper.

Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the duck breasts, skin side down, and immediately turn the heat to medium-low. Cook 8 to 9 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over (skin should be golden) and scatter the bacon around the duck. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the duck and keep warm.

Remove all but 3 tablespoons fat from the skillet. Return to medium-high heat, add kale sprouts and saute for 1 minute. Add raisins and pine nuts, toss to distribute and remove sprouts from pan. Arrange on a large warm serving platter.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil (or fat from cooking). Brown gnocchi for 1 to 2 minutes and place them on the serving plate.

Return the skillet to high heat, add sherry and reduce by half. Add chicken stock, sun-dried tomatoes and thyme. Reduce the liquid by half and remove from heat. Slice the duck and arrange on the serving platter. Top with sauce. Enjoy!

*For Chef Ben’s recipe for homemade gnocchi, visit


  • 6 boneless duck breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups kale sprouts or Brussels sprouts, trimmed (Brussels sprouts halved if substituting)
  • 1–2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ¼ cup (1- by ¼-inch lengths) thick-slab bacon
  • ¼ cup golden raisins or dried currants
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1 package plain fresh gnocchi or homemade, cooked al dente *
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken or duck stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
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