Week 42's theme was bird, and there was no question that I wanted to cook duck! It's something I don't cook very often - it's very expensive - but I absolutely adore the flavour of the meat. Just like the chocolate-themed week, this was a good time to try two different recipes!
Duck breasts with port and cherry sauce
Gordon Ramsey - Cooking for Friends
4 200-225g duck breasts with skin on
3 shallots, finely chopped
250g pitted cherries (fresh or preserved, I used preserved)
2 tbs black cherry jam (I used blueberry)
300ml chicken stock
Season the duck breast then place skin side down on a dry frying pan.
Place the pan over gentle heat for 8-10 minutes until most of the fat has been rendered.
Increase the heat slightly and fry until the skins are golden brown.
Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the meat feels slightly springy and the duck is cooked to medium rare.
Remove to a warm plate and leave to rest.
Pour off most of the fat from the pan (save for roasting potatoes).
Add the shallots and stir over medium-to-low heat until soft.
Increase the heat and add the port to deglaze.
Boil until reduced and the pan is quite dry.
Add the cherries, jam and stock, return to the boil and cook until reduced by more than half and the sauce is syrupy.
I served this with braised bok choi, as suggested in the cookbook. The sauce was amazing, beautifully rich and perfectly matched to the meat, and this was backed up by J licking his plate clean!
Sweet duck with plums and star anise
Jamie Oliver - Jamie's Dinners
4 duck legs (I used breasts)
4 tbs soy sauce
3 tsp five spice
10 star anise
1/2 a cinnamon stick
1 tbs olive oil
1-2 fresh chillies, sliced
16 plums, halved and de-stoned
2 tbs Demerara sugar (I used brown sugar)
Place the duck in a sandwich bag with the soy sauce, spices and olive oil and marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
Place the plums in a casserole dish, add the chillies and sugar and mix all together.
Put the duck on top, skin side up if using breasts.
Bake for 2-2.5 hours.
I served this with duck-fat sautéed potatoes and steamed green beans. It was a fantastic meal, again the sauce was plate lick-able! It was possibly a tad too sweet which might be due to the type of plums I used, so if I cook this again I won't add the sugar. I added double the chilli (and didn't remove the seeds as the original recipe instructs) and the sauce was beautifully spicy.
Which is my favourite of the two? I honestly couldn't decide! They were both delicious, the only difference is how long they take to prepare and cook, with the cherry sauce recipe being very quick and easy.