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Duck Breasts with Cider-Farro Risotto

Randy Mayor

8 servings (serving size: 1 breast half and about 1/2 cup farro risotto)

An ancient grain with a nutty flavor, farro releases starch when cooked in the same way as Arborio rice, resulting in a creamy dish reminiscent of risotto. Farro is also known as spelt; look for it in supermarkets alongside other specialty grains. Garnish with thyme sprigs.


  • Risotto:
  • 2 cups farro
  • 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 2)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup water (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Duck:
  • 8 (6-ounce) boneless duck breast halves, thawed and skinned
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Nutrition Information

  • calories 459
  • caloriesfromfat 22 %
  • fat 11.2 g
  • satfat 3.2 g
  • monofat 4.6 g
  • polyfat 1.1 g
  • protein 42.9 g
  • carbohydrate 50.5 g
  • fiber 2.1 g
  • cholesterol 190 mg
  • iron 8.4 mg
  • sodium 659 mg
  • calcium 63 mg

How to Make It

  1. To prepare risotto, place farro in a large bowl; cover with water to 1 inch above farro. Let stand 30 minutes; drain.

  2. Combine broth and cider in a large saucepan; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add fennel, and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Remove fennel from pan. Add farro, and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add wine, and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 35 minutes total). Add up to 1 cup water as needed until farro is al dente. Stir in fennel, grated lemon rind, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and cinnamon. Remove from heat. Cover and keep warm.

  4. To prepare duck, sprinkle duck with 1/2 teaspoon salt, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; rub with garlic. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 breast halves, and cook for 2 1/2 minutes or until browned. Turn breasts over, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 1/2 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 4 breast halves. Serve duck with farro risotto.

Green Tea