Chef David Wolfman's recipe for vanilla salted maple duck breast

National Indigenous Peoples Day — June 21 — is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.  

George Brown College Culinary Arts Professor Chef David Wolfman Open New Browser Window is an internationally recognized expert in wild game and traditional Indigenous cuisine. In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, Wolfman, a member of the Xaxli’p First Nation in B.C., shared a recipe from his cookbook Cooking with the Wolfman: Indigenous Fusion Open New Browser Window.  

The Wolfman's vanilla salted maple duck breast 

Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, a famous battleground where the Métis fought the Canadian government at the start of the 1885 North-West Rebellion, was named for the large number of ducks that once migrated through this area in early spring and late fall. The Cree in Saskatchewan, who called Duck Lake "See-Seep-Sakayegan," traditionally cooked duck over a fire or in soups. Duck hunting is still common among Indigenous people today, particularly for those living in the north of Canada where store-bought foods are extremely expensive. 


  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 tsp. vanilla salt or kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup 
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • optional garnish: fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin by making a couple of incisions about ½ inch (1.5 cm) deep in a criss-cross pattern, but do not cut down into the flesh. 

Season the skin side of the breasts with half the vanilla salt and half the pepper, rubbing it in. Set aside for five minutes. Turn the breasts over and repeat on the flesh side using the remaining salt and pepper. Set aside for five minutes. 

Whisk together the maple syrup, red wine vinegar and garlic, and pour the mixture over the duck, coating it. Allow the duck to marinate for 30 minutes to one hour in the fridge in a nonreactive dish (ceramic, glass or stainless steel). Drain duck, and discard marinade. 

Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). 

Place the duck breasts in a cold cast iron frying pan, skin side down. Turn heat to medium and brown the meat without turning it (about three  minutes). 
Increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking without turning the meat. 

After three more minutes, turn the breasts over, skin side up, and cook for two more minutes. Turn the breasts over again, skin side down, and bake duck in the same pan for 10 minutes in the oven. I would serve the duck at 155 F (70 C), but you could wait until it reaches the temperature Health Canada recommends, which is 165 F (75 C). 

Remove the duck from the pan and set aside on a cutting board with a little foil on top to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Slice and garnish duck with pan drippings and chopped parsley if using.