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One French word: magret, a French recipe: magret de canard caramélisé au miel et à l’orange

Magret = duck breast  (pronounced ma (like mama) – grey) is a masculine noun: le magret (= the duck breast), un magret (= a duck breast).

In fact, magret just means breast (of a fowl), but since other birds are rarely used, it is usually taken to mean duck breast. The full translation of duck breast is magret de canard, canard meaning duck. The word magret does not apply to a chicken breast. The word for that is blanc, blanc de poulet, blanc meaning “white”, the white meat. Magret comes from the word maigre meaning “lean”, as it is the leanest meat on a duck.

Recipe: Magret de canard caramélisé au miel et à l’orange (caramelized duck breast with honey and orange)


Magret de canard caramélisé

For one person:

  • One duck breast with the skin
  • half tsp salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbs Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 1 tbs honey
  • the zest and juice of one orange


  1. Heat the oven 200°
  2. Wipe the duck breast with paper towel until nice and dry. Prick the fat side of the breast with a skewer or fork. This will help the fat to escape and make the skin crispier. With a sharp knife, score the fat in one direction and then the other to make diamond shapes. Do not score the meat under the fat.
  3. Place in an oven dish skin side up, rub with salt, grind pepper over the breast, drizzle the soy, grate the orange rind over the scored side, pour the orange juice over and let it run into the dish, and spread the honey evenly.
  4. Place in the hot oven for 20 minutes or until the skin is really crisp. The meat should remain pink. Duck is not nice when it is overcooked. This cooking time depends entirely on the thickness of your duck breast.
  5. Serve either whole or cut into diagonal quarter inch slices, accompanied with chips (french fries) and a green salad.

The magret in my picture may look a little singed, in fact it is just deliciously caramelized. This, with a dozen oysters, was my New Year’s Eve dinner this year.

If you eat magret in a French restaurant, the waiter will ask you: “Et la cuisson?” (and how would you like it cooked?),or words to that effect, to which you may answer either “bien cuit” (well cooked, at which he will certainly frown), “à point” (fairly well cooked) , “rosé” (just pink, which is personally how I prefer it), or  “saignant” (literally “bloody”, or not very cooked at all). Have your answer ready in advance, don’t get caught out! These adjectives also apply to beef (steak) and lamb.

Bon appétit.


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

7 responses »

  1. Psuedo Runner

    Loving the new french word a day! I studied french in school for a few years and have always loved it. Thanks!

  2. Caroline, what a lovely idea! I am now a follower for several reasons: I know how well you cook, I need to improve my poor french and my english too for that matter!
    Wish you a very happy year 2012! Busy too as it seems,

  3. Caroline, so looking forward to following your blog, as you know my french needs all the help it can get. Best to you in the New Year. I hope to make over to your neck of the woods this late fall, will keep you informed.
    Best, Shannon

  4. Lovely website! I am loving it!! Will come back again. I am bookmarking your feeds also


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