Duck breasts with balsamic vinegar, orange and fresh cherries
( SERVES 4 )
Jane Grigson, one of my all-time favourite food writers, suggests in her Fruit Book that stoning cherries “is a trying business, so avoid pampering your family as half the fun of a cherry pie is putting the stones on the side of the plate and counting them out”. Cherries go well in both sweet and savoury dishes. I immediately think “duck” when I see fresh cherries, and if I want a sweet dish, some form of chocolate makes the perfect partner.
- Trim excess flaps of fat from each duck breast, then use a sharp knife to score the skin in a diamond pattern.
- Season generously with salt and pepper. Place the breasts, skin-side down, in a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat.
- Adding oil to the pan is unnecessary, as the fat will immediately start to run from the duck. Reduce the heat to low and let the duck cook gently
for 10-12 minutes.
- Once the skin is crisp and golden, turn the breasts over and cook on the meaty side for 2 minutes until nicely rare.
- Remove from the pan, cover and rest the breasts in a warm place for at least 5 minutes before serving. There will be at least a cup of fat in the pan,
so store this in a container and refrigerate when cool.
- Duck fat can be used to roast potatoes; it will keep for months in the fridge. To make the sauce, put the onion and butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Cook gently until the onion is soft and golden, then stir in the flour and cook until it turns golden.
- Add the stock, wine, zest and juice and stir until it comes to the boil. Simmer the sauce for at least 10 minutes until it reduces and becomes syrupy. Add the vinegar and cherries and cook for a minute. To serve, place each duck breast on a heated plate and pour over the sauce and cherries. Serve with steamed baby new potatoes and blanched baby green beans, garnished with a little chopped parsley.