Pastrami-Spiced Duck Breast "Reuben" – Prepare to Open Face

I first tasted pastrami-spiced, smoked duck breast about 15 years ago, and ever since I’ve wondered how it would be used in a classic Reuben sandwich. I never got around to actually trying it, but this is close, and I’m going to say, way, way better.

This was one of the more delicious and interesting duck breast preparations I’ve had in a very long time. The pastrami spices are perfect with the duck meat, and the crisp, cheesy rye was a worthy base.  The quick slaw and mustard dressing helped balance the richness, and like I said in the video, the final results were stunning.

The key here, as it is with any duck breast recipe, is to not overcooked meat. I like to go about five or six minutes on the skin side, until nice and crusty, and then turn it over and continue until the breast springs back under your touch. Obviously, the cooking times I mention in the video will depend on how large the breasts are. Mine were about 5 ounces, which I found to be the perfect size for this.

If you’re using a thermometer, you’ll want to shoot for about 135–140 internal temperature. This will give you gorgeous, pink, juicy meat, that will rival the finest steak. If you can get past the idea of eating a sandwich with a fork and knife, I really hope you give this amazing pastrami-spiced duck breast Reuben a try soon.  Enjoy!


Ingredients for two portions:
2 duck breast, boneless, skin-on (mine were 5-oz each)
For the rub:
1 tbsp olive oil or more as needed
1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne

For the Reuben:
2 slices rye bread
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon reserved duck fat
2 cups chopped Green cabbage
2-3 tablespoons Russian or Thousand Islands dressing
2 tablespoons mustard dressing (see recipe below)

Mustard dressing:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste