Maple Leaf Farm Duck Breast with Spiced Orange Mole

By Chef at Talavera at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
Samantha Sanz

Inspired by the rich southwestern spices of traditional mole and the juicy Arizona winter citrus, this roasted duck breast honors the classic flavor combination of duck and orange while adding the surprising element of chocolate and chile spice.


For the Duck

(4) duck breasts, excess fat removed


For the mole

1 tsp of coriander seeds

½ tsp of star anise

1 cinnamon stick


Roasted Vegetable Mix

2 whole white onions

20 skinless tomatillos

5 whole tomatoes

5 whole green tomatoes


Roasted Nuts 

½ cup of sesame seeds                                     4-5 c. chicken stock

½ cup of almonds                                                18 chiles mulatos

½ cup of peanuts                                                   10 ancho chiles

½ cup of cashews                                                 10 pasilla chilies

  ½ c. raisins                                                           ½ c. cocoa

  ½ c. dried papaya                                                    4 Tbsp. sugar

      ½ c. banana chips                                                4-6 c. orange juice

     1 whole croissant                                                   1 orange for zest

                            1 whole head of garlic                                  2 corn tortillas (slightly charred from a grill)

6 Mexican chocolate bars (Ibarra or Abuelita)                  Queen Creek Olive Oil



Directions for Mole

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prior to making this recipe, the spices need to be roasted for their natural aromas come out. They can be toasted on a pan or placed on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until fragrant
  • Place the nuts on a sheet pan and roast at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden brown 
  • Placing the vegetables on a sheet pan with olive oil and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they are a deep dark color
  • In a stock pot or rondeau, drizzle olive oil and sauté all the ingredients that were roasted in addition to the cocoa nibs and the dried fruit over medium heat
  • Once all the ingredients start to cook and caramelize, tear the croissant and tortillas into bitesize pieces and add into the pot with the chicken stock
  • Let mixture simmer on low for one hour. Once all the liquid has been absorbed, add the orange juice, sugar and chocolate bars.
  • Let it simmer for another hour
  • Finish the sauce by blending it (with an immersion blender or in a stand-up blender) and season with salt and pepper to taste 

Directions for Duck

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Clean the duck by removing excess fat and then scoring the skin it in a crisscross way
  • Make sure the fat part is very dry by using a cloth or a paper towel
  • Season the duck with salt and pepper
  • Preheat a cast iron skillet or a nonstick pan over low to medium heat
  • Once the pan is heated, drop the heat to a low flame
  • Dab the fat side of the duck breast with a little bit of olive oil
  • Place the duck on the pan (skin side down) and let it cook until the skin is rendered and crispy
  • Remove the pan from the heat and place in the oven for about 10 minutes for a perfect medium
  • Once the duck is cooked, let it rest for 7 minutes.
  • Slice the duck and top with a generous amount of mole
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and your favorite vegetables or Spanish rice