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For the past few years, our family Thanksgiving has grown smaller as kids have other obligations or move away.

I make all the trimmings -- squash, potatoes, brussels sprouts and roasted vegetables -- but in smaller quantities, and we always have apple pie for dessert.

Duck breasts are an excellent meal for Thanksgiving. Buy large, meaty moulard duck breasts. Sometimes the breasts are as large as one pound each, which would be plenty for two people. To crack the peppercorns and coriander seeds, place in a plastic bag and whack with the back of a pot.

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Servings: 4


4 duck breasts, about 12 ounces each

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon cracked peppercorns

1 tablespoon cracked coriander seeds


2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ cup red wine

3 cups chicken stock

½ cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 450 F. Score duck skin in 1-inch intervals. Combine ginger, garlic, peppercorns and coriander seeds. Rub into duck breasts.

Place breasts skin side down in a cold pan. Turn heat to medium and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook about 15 minutes or until fat is rendered.

Drain fat as it accumulates in pan. Transfer breasts to a rack over a baking pan and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until slightly pink.

Discard remaining fat from skillet while breasts are baking. Increase heat to high and add vinegar and sugar.

Cook until sticky, add wine and reduce to a glaze. Add stock, and boil for 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce is thickened and reduced. Add cranberries and simmer a few minutes.

Remove from heat swirl in butter. Slice breasts and place on plate. Glaze with sauce.

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