Risotto with Duck Breasts and Roasted Red Peppers

After a summer of non-stop outdoor grilling and dining al fresco, this is the perfect dish to greet fall weather. The days are cooler and the sun sets earlier in the evening, but you can light candles and with the indoor smells of something good coming from the kitchen, it’s nothing but Gemütlichkeit.

Especially if that smell is of duck breasts frying in a pan.

We make risotto a lot and enjoy it as a side or as a meal on its own, as you can add all sorts of veggies and cheeses. Use homemade chicken stock if you can. Ralph uses a non-stick deep pan for risotto (he has a nice one from Calphelon) so he doesn’t have to worry too much about burning it if he gets doing something else. Risotto should be stirred as often as you can manage while absorbing the liquids to create the creamy texture you want.

If you’re making this as a meal with the duck and risotto, start the duck frying about half way through the risotto process.  Broil the peppers first so that they can sweat and cool in the bag while you do the rest, or make them ahead.  They will warm up again in the risotto.


  • 1 ½ cups risotto rice (we use Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • ¾ cups chopped yellow onions (more or less is OK)
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 100g or 1 cup shredded Provolone or other cheese that melts well (feta is good here too but stays more chunky)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 duck breasts
  • White pepper
  • Herbes de Provence


Roasted red pepper

  1. Slice lengthwise in quarters so they lay fairly flat for even broiling.
  2. Brush with olive oil.
  3. Broil in oven until skins blacken.
  4. Place in paper bag and allow to cool.
  5. Peel skins and cut into bite size pieces.

Duck breasts

  1. Pat duck breasts dry and remove tendons in the filet.
  2. Score the skin.
  3. Salt skin side only; sprinkle salt, fresh pepper and Herbes de Provence on flesh side.
  4. Heat a stainless steel or cast iron oven-proof pan to medium-high heat.
  5. Fry duck breasts skin side down to render fat, until enough fat is in pan to turn and fry flesh side.
  6. Set oven to broil and preheat for a few minutes while the breasts are frying.
  7. Fry flesh side for about 5 minutes and put in oven to broil for 10 minutes (don’t cook through on stove-top burner).
  8. Once skin is browned and crispy, remove and let rest on a cutting board for a few minutes.
  9. Slice duck breasts in 15 to 20cm thick slices so they stop cooking and bleed out a bit before serving – they should be pink inside.  Leave the crispy skin on.


  1. Count on about ½ hour to 45 minutes to make the risotto.
  2. Sauté onions in butter (medium-low heat).
  3. Add a couple of pinches of white pepper (Ralph uses white instead of fresh cracked for this so you don’t bite into a pepper corn when eating the risotto).
  4. Heat chicken stock in separate pot to boiling, then reduce to simmer.
  5. Once onions are softened, add rice and turn heat up to medium.
  6. When rice starts crackling, add wine – keep heat on medium until wine is absorbed.
  7. Once wine is absorbed and rice is drying up but not burning, add a few ladles of chicken stock to evenly coat rice and frequently stir until you don’t see liquid (see video). You may have to reduce the heat a bit if it is frying too aggressively.
  8. Repeat step 5 until risotto has only a little crunch (you may not end up using all the stock).
  9. Add roasted red pepper and cheese – stir until cheese melts.
  10. Assemble risotto and duck on individual serving plates.


  • Keep duck fat for other uses such as frying potatoes, making sauces.
  • Use a non-stick pan to make your risotto so the chances of it burning are reduced if you get distracted and forget to stir.
  • You can ladle your risotto over a bed of arugula leaves. We had planned to do this for this recipe, but I was too lazy to wash the arugula. Arugula is nice because it wilts from the heat but retains a nice crunch.

Wine pairing 🍷:

Serve this dish with a high quality Chianti Classico or Pinot Noir.


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