Saturday, January 5, 2019


For a holiday lunch with guests who don’t drink alcoholic beverages, I concocted a festive punch of red hibiscus tea, spicy chai, sliced oranges and fizzy water. It was a drink with pop, without the punch. 

Hibiscus punch is bright, fruity and spicy.

After the party, I had a cup or two of the bright and spicy drink leftover. I turned it into a sauce for duck breast by cooking it with sweet Sherry and thickening the sauce with cornstarch. I tried it with cream instead of cornstarch, too, but the cream turned the sauce from cherry-red to pink. I liked the red best.

Leftover hibiscus punch is the basis of a spicy sauce for duck.

Sliced and sauced magret (duck breast) with purple potatoes and brussels sprouts that have been sautéed in the duck fat. 

Non-Alcoholic Hibiscus Punch
Ponche de Hibiscus sin Alcohol

This punch is best if not overly sweet. Use 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (or a few drops of non-caloric liquid sweetener such as stevia). Agua con gas (seltzer water) gives the drink fizz. Add it to the punch immediately before serving. Guests who prefer their punch with real punch can top-up with cava sparkling wine instead of soda. Or rum. Ice is optional. 

Tea bags for the punch.

Hibiscus tea (or infusión) is made from flowers of the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant, also known as flor de Jamaica, malva and sorrel flowers . Apparently, it is not the same variety as the red hibiscus that blooms on my patio (Hibiscus syriacus or Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). The tea bags I used contained hibiscus plus rosehip, doubling the red power and vitamin C content. The chai tea adds the spice. 

Serves 6.

2 hibiscus tea bags
1 chai tea bag
Slice of ginger, crushed
1 strip of orange zest
3 cups boiling water
Sugar or sweetener, to taste
Ice (optional)
Orange slices

Place the tea bags in a heatproof pitcher or jar. Add the ginger and strip of orange zest. Pour over the boiling water. Cover and let the tea steep 30 minutes. Add sugar or sweetener to taste. Let the mixture steep until completely cool. Strain the liquid, discarding tea bags, ginger and zest. Chill the infusion.

Divide the infusion between glasses or goblets, adding ice, if desired. Add seltzer and orange slices to the drinks.

Leftover hibiscus punch is starter for sauce.

Duck Breast with Spiced Hibiscus Sauce
Magret de Pato con Salsa de Hibiscus

Scoring the layer of fat allows the fat to render out in cooking. Moderate heat so it doesn't splatter and, carefully, drain off the fat part way through cooking. Anything sautéed in the reserved duck fat will be delicious. Here I've used par-boiled potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Serves 6.

1 ¼ cups hibiscus drink (recipe above)
¼ cup sweet Sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 duck breast halves (magret), each 14-16 ounces
Freshly ground black pepper
6 allspice berries, coarsely crushed
Orange slices to garnish

Place 1 cup of the hibiscus drink in a saucepan with the Sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it bubble 5 minutes until alcohol is cooked off and liquid is slightly reduced.

Place remaining ¼ cup of the hibiscus drink in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened. Keep sauce warm while preparing the duck breasts.

Place the duck breasts on a cutting board, fat-side up. With a sharp knife, score the fat without cutting into the flesh. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the crushed allspice on the top of each, rubbing it into the cuts.

Heat a cast iron skillet. Place the duck breasts in the skillet, fat side down. Cook on medium heat until the fat is browned and crisped, about 5 minutes. Remove the breasts from the skillet and very carefully drain off accumulated fat. Return the breasts to the skillet and cook the flesh side 3 to 5 minutes or until the meat is medium-rare in the center. (You may have to cut into one to test for doneness.)

Scoring the layer of fat allows the fat to render during cooking.

Place the breasts on a cutting board. Allow them to rest 5 minutes, then slice about ¼ inch thick. Plate the sliced duck. Spoon over the sauce and garnish the plates with sliced oranges.

More recipes with duck breast:

Also good with duck breast:



  1. Happy 2019, Janet. Let’s hope it’s a kind and good eating year for all.

    1. JohnD: Kind and good eating year, yes! Good wishes.

  2. That looks and sounds great!