Roast duck breast with plum sauce. Gorgeous!

18 Jan

Duck is one of our favourite foods but is quite expensive.  Now there is just the two of us at home, I hardly ever buy a whole duck.  Duck breasts may be a bit more expensive but there is a lot less waste and they are so easy to cook.  This recipe would work equally well with duck legs, I just can’t be bothered to fiddle about with getting the meat off the bones.  I remember when I first made this, we ate it by candlelight, and had a really romantic evening.  Not so last night.  I love a glass of wine when I am cooking and somehow, in the middle of making this, found myself trying to do Irish dancing in the kitchen while listening to the Corrs.  Those that know me will not find this unusual!  Some things never change, thank goodness!

The word duck comes from the old english word duce, which translates as diver.  Ducks, therefore, got the name because of the way they feed by upending and diving for their food.  Most people who read this blog will know all about ducks but, one interesting piece of information I didn’t know, was that only females of the dabbling ducks quack.  Just think of all those children that have been told the noise ducks make is quack!  Mind you, I’m not sure they would grasp the reality ie that they may whistle, yodel, coo or grunt!  I can’t ever remember hearing a duck grunt.  Perhaps I’ve only ever heard female dabbling ducks!

One of my favourite recipes for duck is Peking Duck.  I admit to being put off a bit when I saw them all hanging in the window of a Chinese Takeaway, in China Town, London.  I don’t think it was necessarily the hanging ducks that put me off, but the bright orange colour and the other pieces of meat hanging with them.  I don’t know what these were but have a sneaky suspicion they were intestines of some kind.  Yuk! I may be meat eater but there are some things I draw the line at.

Here is the recipe.  I’ve had it so long I can’t remember where I first found it, most likely one of my cooking journals that I subscribe to, although I can’t find a link to give you.   If you make too much sauce, freeze the rest for another day.

Roasted Duck Breast with Plum Sauce                  Serves 2

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 star anise
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter (it is less likely to burn than salted)

For the Plum Sauce

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g/10 oz dark plums, halved, stoned and cut into wedges
  • 50g/2 oz light brown, soft sugar
  • 50ml/2 fl oz red wine
  • 250ml/1/2 pt beef stock
  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Firstly make the sauce by frying the shallot in the oil for about 5 minutes or until softened but not coloured.  Add the plums and sugar, stir for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the red wine and stock then simmer for 15 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the plums are softened and the sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat and keep at room temperature.  Can be made up to one day in advance.
  3.  Dry the duck breasts well then score the skin and season well.  Fry, skin side down in a non-stick, ovenproof pan, for about 6-7 minutes or until the skin is browned.  Turn the breasts over, add the thyme, star anise and butter.  When the butter has melted, baste the duck then transfer the pan to the oven for 5-6 minutes if you like the duck link, or 10-12 minutes for well done.  Remove from the oven, baste and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. I served mine with stir fried mushrooms, onions and pak choy and potatoes in shirts (recipe in next post) but this would be equally as good served thinly sliced, topped with sauce and accompanied by mashed potatoes and a green vegetable such as broccoli.

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