Nov 15, 2016

Pesto Risotto with Seared Duck Breast, Perhaps with a Few Drops of Aged Balsamic Vinegar?

Making pesto sauce is a great way to utilize leftover basil and pine nuts. The sauce keeps well in the fridge and can be stored in the freezer up to one month or so. Check on my Cheesy goodness: chicken pesto lasagna for instructions on how to make simple pesto sauce.

Usually I would use the pesto sauce for pasta or as a sandwich spread, but it can be a great flavor boost for risotto as well.

Pesto risotto with seared duck breast -

Ingredients (2 to 3 portions)?

  • 1 duck breast
  • 2 cups Acquerello or Arborio rice
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Peel and finely chop the shallots. Meanwhile warm up the stock on the stove.

Remove the duck breast from the fridge and let it rest in room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Season both sides of the duck breast with salt and pepper. 

Heat up a big pot that'll be used for making the risotto. Turn to medium high heat and transfer the duck breast over, skin side down. Slowly searing the skin till the fat starts to render. Keep searing till the skin turns crispy but not burnt. Flip and continue to sear the breast till desired doneness. Ideally, a little pinkish color in the center yields a more tender bite of the meat.

Once the duck breast is ready, remove from heat and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Remove excess oil from the pot and reserve for future use, leaving about 2 tablespoons of duck fat in the pot. The extra duck fat can add great flavors to dishes like fries, baked potatoes, and roasted veggies. 

Turn to medium high heat and add in chopped shallots along with 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Sear till aromatic but not burnt. 

Pour in the wine to deglaze, consider using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and cook for another 10 seconds or so. 

Add in the grains and mix a little. Pour in some warm stock in 2 to 3 batches. Only need to stir the mixture once a while making sure the rice is not sticking to the pot. 

When the rice is about done, add in the pesto sauce and mix well. Let it cook for about 30 more seconds before transfering onto a serving plate. 

Usually I would finish off with some butter for extra shine, but since there are quite some oil from the duck breast and pesto sauce, adding more butter can get too greasy. 

Scoop some risotto to the serving plate and transfer some duck breast over. Sprinkle some black pepper.

It takes some time to sear the duck especially we are not transfering the semi-cooked breast to the oven to finish off cooking, so patience is the key here. You'll be rewarded when biting into the crispy skin and tender breast.

Finish off with few drops of aged balsamic vinegar and turn it into a fancy dinner.

Other risotto recipes:

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