Duck Tacos with Chile-Cherry Compote

Suggested Use:
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.

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2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 lbs boneless duck breasts, skin on
10 dried chiles de arbol
6 oz. dried Bing cherrries
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1/2 cup diced onion
6 tomatillos, husks removed, coarsely chopped
8 small corn tortillas
Finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


Rub 1 tsp of the salt into the duck breasts, place them in a large sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 1 hour while you make the sauce.

Soak the chiles de arbol and dried cherries in 2 cups of boiling water for about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. In a food processor, combine the drained chiles and cherries with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 cloves minced garlic. Process to a thick paste, adding a little of the reserved liquid to help combine and adjust the consistency. Set aside. This makes about 1 cup compote.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, place the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil, the onions, and the remaining 3 cloves of minced garlic. Saute until the onions are just starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillos and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and continue to cook about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatillos are tender. Remove and cool slightly for a few minutes.

In a food processor, combine the tomatillo mixture with 1/4 cup of the chile-cherry paste. Set aside. This makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.

Place the duck breasts, skin side down, into a cold cast-iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the duck about 10 minutes, or until the skin is golden-brown and crispy and the fat has rendered off. (Turn the heat down to medium after a few minutes and watch to make sure the duck doesn’t burn. Adjust the heat if necessary so that it cooks evenly.) Turn the duck over and cook for 1 minute to cook the meat to medium-rare. Otherwise, continue cooking until desired doneness is achieved. Remove the breasts to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice very thinly on the diagonal.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and warm the tortillas. Place two to a plate and divide the sliced duck among the tortillas. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the tomatillo sauce over the duck and add a half teaspoon of chile-cherry compote on top, or to taste. Sprinkle the top with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

From the LA Times.