Trim off any excess skin & fat & cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Put into a small skillet over medium heat and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Pour off the rendered fat and reserve for other uses. Drain the crisp "cracklings" on paper towels and set aside.
Cut diagonal slits in the skin side of the duck breast, taking care not to cut into the flesh. Sprinkle both sides of each duck breast with the spice rub and set aside for at least 15 - 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Place the duck breasts into the pan, skin side down, and sear for 5 -6 minutes, reducing the heat to medium-low after 3 minutes. Turn the duck breasts and cook for 3 - 4 minutes longer. The duck breasts should be cooked to medium-rare at this point. Remove them to a warm plate and cover.
Pour off any rendered duck and reserve for future use.
Maintain the heat at medium-low. Add the Sherry Vinegar Glaze and Pine Bud Syrup to the pan to deglaze, scraping up any brown bits with a spatula or spoon. Simmer for a minute or two. Turn off the heat. Return the duck breasts to the pan, pouring in any accumulated juices. Turn the duck breasts in the sauce to coat them evenly. Slice the breasts diagonally across the grain and serve them immediately, garnished with an extra drizzle of the glaze and a sprinkle of the duck skin "cracklings."
Spice Rub for Duck or Game
- 10 - 12 juniper berries
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp whole allspice
- 2 tsp whole coriander
- 1 tsp fennel pollen
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
Remove the large seeds from the juniper berries. Toast the juniper berries, black pepper, allspice and coriander in a small pan until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside until cool. Grind the toasted ingredients finely in a spice grinder & mix with remaining ingredients.