Juniper & Ginger Duck with Berry-Port Sauce and White Veggie Mash

duck with berry-port sauce
Jennifer B. Photography
Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Calories: 289

Although juniper berries (tiny pinecones that look like small berries) are uncommon in American kitchens, this inexpensive spice is used in other parts of the world. It delivers a clean, fresh taste that marries the flavors of celery and pine. Commonly recognized as a flavoring in gin and used in marinades and stuffing mixes, juniper berries are sold in the spice section of many grocery stores. Whole juniper berries can be ground in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Known for their digestive benefits, both juniper and ginger season this duck with berry-port sauce dish.

Paleo & Keto: What’s the Difference?

Both the paleo diet and the keto diet recommend avoiding all grains, beans, sugar, most dairy and processed foods. They differ in carbohydrate limits and the amount of fat. A person may follow either diet on a doctor’s recommendation to address specific health challenges, to reduce inflammation or to lose weight.

Paleo-Friendly Specifics

The paleo diet allows all vegetables (except corn, which is a grain), meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, most oil/fat including butter and/or ghee and some sweeteners in moderation, including raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia and some natural zero-calorie sweeteners, such as monk fruit (a sweet Chinese herb) and erythritol.

Keto-Friendly Specifics

The keto diet is more restrictive; it limits vegetables to non-starchy items that are lower in carbohydrates. A general rule: If it grows above the ground, it’s probably allowed on the keto diet. This includes asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuces, leafy greens, tomatoes, some bell peppers and zucchini. Keto advocates suggest avoiding fruit, except a limited intake of berries, and limiting vegetables that grow underground. Beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and some above-ground starchy vegetables, such as winter squash and acorn squash, are allowed in moderation.

For more information, consult a registered dietitian who specializes in these diets.

Contributing chef Sueson Vess is a food coach, cooking instructor and author of Special Eats, a gluten-free, dairy-free cookbook.

Yields 4 servings


  • 4 (about 5-ounce) skin-on frozen boneless duck breasts
  • 1 teaspoon whole juniper berries, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
  • 8 thin slices of lemon
  • Berry-Port Sauce, optional


1Thaw duck breasts and pat them dry. Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of each breast in a cross-hatch pattern; cut only through the skin and fat, not the flesh. Sprinkle each side with ground juniper, salt and pepper.

2Slide breasts into a large zip-top freezer bag. Sprinkle minced ginger evenly over both sides of each duck breast. Place a lemon slice on each side of the breast and seal bag. Place bag in refrigerator to marinate at least 1 hour before cooking. (This step can be done a day in advance with duck breasts marinating in the refrigerator overnight.)

3Remove duck breasts from bag; discard lemon and any liquid but retain some of the ginger pieces. In a large dry skillet, sauté duck breasts, starting skin side down; start heat on low and turn up to medium. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until skin is crisp and fat has been rendered. Turn each breast over and cook the other side 3 minutes.

4Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes before serving with Berry-Port Sauce, if desired.

1 serving contains 289 calories, 15g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 190mg cholesterol, 263mg sodium, 1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 34g protein.

Berry-Port Sauce

PREP: 5 minutes
COOK: 30 minutes

This recipe is paleo-friendly. For lower sugar and carbs (i.e., keto-friendly), use raspberries or blueberries (or a combination) rather than cherries. Delicious with Juniper & Ginger Duck, this sauce is also tasty on chicken and grilled veggies.

1 tablespoon ghee, butter or dairy-free alternative
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 cup port or Madeira wine
1/2 cup gluten-free chicken broth
1 cup frozen (thawed) black cherries, raspberries or blueberries
1/4 cup dried tart cherries (unsweetened), optional (omit for keto)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. In a small saucepan, melt ghee over medium-low heat. Add cinnamon and shallot and sauté 3 minutes until shallot is softened.
2. Add wine and cook over medium-low heat until reduced by half.
3. Add broth, fresh or frozen (thawed) cherries, dried cherries and orange juice and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Each tablespoon of sauce contains 62 calories, 1g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 2mg cholesterol, 42mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 5g sugars, 1g protein, 4Est GL.

White Veggie Mash

PREP: 5 minutes
COOK: 15 minutes


Pureed cauliflower is a standard paleo/keto alternative for mashed potatoes. With multiple white veggies, this puree takes the flavor to another level and enhances nutrient counts. This recipe can be made a day or two in advance and reheated in an oven without becoming gluey (as potatoes do) or watery (as happens with some pureed veggies).

1/2 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2-inch coin slices
1 large or 2 small white sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon ghee, butter or dairy-free alternative
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. In a steamer basket over boiling water, steam cauliflower, parsnips and white sweet potatoes until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let drain.
2. Place steamed vegetables, ghee and salt in a blender or food processor and puree until ingredients are combined. Alternatively, mash ingredients by hand with a potato masher.

Each serving contains 70 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 4mg cholesterol, 222mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g sugars, 2g protein, 4Est GL.