Duck Breast Stuffed with Caramelized Apples & Pecans wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon

finished duck

Here is an unusual preparation of duck…… I make  a caramelized apple mixture to stuff in the duck breast then wrap it  in Nueske brand applewood smoked bacon. The duck breast is sauteed and finished with an apple brandy sauce.

This is a true “restaurant” dish. For those of you who want a dish to test your skills with, this is the recipe! The duck breasts can be made one day ahead, wrapped individually in plastic wrap, and refrigerated. The sauce can also be made a day ahead.

We serve the duck breast on a bed of wild rice flavored with dried cranberries and top the finished dish with frizzled sweet potatoes. If duck breast is difficult for you to find, substitute pork tenderloin.


  • 4 boneless duck breast halves (6 to 7 ounces each)
  • 24 thin slices of applewood smoked bacon (We use Nueske brand bacon)
  • 12 pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to coast the bottom of the pan to saute the duck breasts)

Caramelized Apples

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cooking apples, peeled and sliced (such as Cortland or Granny Smith)

Apple Brandy Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sliced, peeled apples
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup shallots, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 cup Calvados (apple flavored brandy) or brandy
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice


To make the apples for the stuffing

adding sugarHeat the butter. Add the apples and saute until they begin to brown.     When they begin to brown, add the sugar. Saute on low, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted and apples are golden in color. Set aside to cool (Can be made ahead).

NOTE: This is the same method you will use to saute the apples for the sauce in the directions listed below.

To make the apple brandy sauce

Saute the apples for the sauce just like you sauteed the apples for the stuffing. When the apples begin to brown, add the granulated sugar, garlic and
chopped shalloflaming applests.   The mixture will begin to caramelize. When browned, stir in the brown sugar. Turn heat off.

Carefully add the brandy to the pan.  Return pan to a burner on medium, tilt pan, and flame. Be careful as the brandy can flame rather high.

Let brandy burn off.

Now add the apple juice and salt and pepper.  Let mixture reduce and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. The apples need to be soft so they can      reducing sauce
be pureed and the mixture should reduce slightly.

Place mixture in a large food processor (Do in batches if your processor is small).  Puree until very, very smooth. I keep the processor going for several minutes until you get a very smooth consistency.

final reduction 2Place mixture back in the saute pan and bring to a simmer. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper).

To prepare the duck breasts

skinning duckUsing a sharp paring knife, carefully remove the skin from the duck breasts.

Now, butterfly the duck by using a slightly larger knife (if possible a sharp chef’s knife) and cut through the breast until you ALMOST go all the way through.

Spread the duck breast out on your work surface. Continue skinning and butterflying the remaining ducks.

pounding duckNow you need to gently pound the duck breast so that it is even and a bit thinner than it currently is.

Place the duck breast on a work surface and place a piece of parchment paper on top of it. Using a meat pounder (as pictured on right) pound the duck breast until it is a bit thinner and even.

Place three pieces of bacon long ways on your work surface, Place two pieces of bacon the opposite direction, with the ends slightly overlapping in the middle (a total of 5 pieces of bacon is needed for each breast).

stuffing duckPlace three pieces of apples and three pieces of pecans down the center of the duck breast.

Fold the duck breast in half (like a book with the stuffing in the inside.).

Then bring the single strips of bacon over the duck breast.

rolling duck 2Roll the remaining three slices of bacon around the duck breast and secure with two toothpicks.

Wrap duck breast in saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to saute. Ducks can be made one day ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.

To saute, final roast and slice duck

cutting duckPreheat oven to 350 degrees and have a baking sheet ready lined with foil and lightly sprayed with non-stick pan spray.

Place enough butter in a saute pan to just cover the bottom of the pan. Remove prepared duck breasts from the refrigerator and take off plastic wrap. When pan is hot, place the four prepared duck breasts in it. Saute on all sides until bacon is browned.

Place duck breast on the prepared baking sheet pan and place in the oven for 9 to 10 minutes. Duck should have an internal temperature of 135 degrees. Rewarm the apple brandy sauce while the duck breast is roasting.

Remove from the oven and take out the toothpicks. Use a chef’s knife to slice the duck breast on a slight diagonal. You should have three medallions.

To plate the duck breast

final platingTo plate, put a mound of wild rice in the center of a plate. Place medallions around the rice. Drizzle with the apple brandy sauce.

If you like, garnish with frizzled sweet potatoes. To prepare the frizzled sweet potatoes, peel a large sweet potato and slice very thinly using a Japanese mandolin slicer.

Heat vegetable or canola oil (not olive oil) in a deep saucepan (at least 3 inches deep. You will need to have about 1 inch of oil).

When the oil is hot (it should be 350 degrees if you check it using a fryer thermometer available at most specialty stores) carefully place the sweet potatoes in it. Fry until frizzled then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Can be made one hour ahead.



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