Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Love Is In The Air

My husband is not a foodie at all. Falling firmly in the "I eat to live, I don't live to eat" camp, there are very few meals that he gets excited about besides brinner and Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries.

On the rare occasion that we go out for a meal, if there is duck on the menu, Drew is almost guaranteed to order it. I do love to cook duck, but tend reserve it for special evenings when it's just going to be the two of us, as good free-range duck can be on the costly side and Stepson has the appetite of a small village.

Usually, I'll buy ducks whole but at one of my last trips to my favourite grocer's, they had huge crowns of free range Gressingham ducks for a fiver, so I snapped one up and popped it in the freezer.

I've done all sorts of things with duck in the past, but honestly, I think that the best thing to do with duck breast is roast it simply with a little seasoning and not for too long. Because of how fatty the meat is, I usually serve something tart or tangy along side and don't put anything else too fatty or heavy on the plate.

This recipe is so super simple and almost fool-proof, as long as you don't over-cook the meat. The citrus buttered asparagus and new potatoes are just what this little ducky needs to bring it into the Spring.

So grab a couple of breasts and your special someone and get ready to knock their socks off with this delicious and special, yet simple supper.

What do you cook when you're setting a romantic mood?

Roast Duck Breasts With Citrusy Asparagus And Crushed New Potatoes
Serves 2 lovers, takes 1 hour 

2 free-range duck breasts
salt and pepper

1 bunch asparagus, bottoms snapped off
zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
zest of 1 tangerine, juice of half
small sprig of fresh rosemary
 2 tbsp butter
sea salt

10 small new potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil (or, if you have leftover oil from confit garlic, use that!)
sea salt

First, boil the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 15 minutes, until tender, then drain.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F)

Melt the butter for the asparagus in a small pan and when the foam has subsided, add the rosemary then cook for one minute before stirring in the orange and lemon zest. Pour the citrus butter into a ramekin or small bowl and pop it in the freezer to firm up while you carry on with the rest.

Squash the potatoes gently with the back of a fork, until they pop, then toss in the olive (or garlic) oil and sea salt to taste. Pop them into the oven in a small baking dish while you cook the duck

While the potatoes are boiling, use a very sharp knife to score the duck's skin into the fat, but without going through to the meat. The easiest way to do this is to lay the blade almost flat on the skin and pressing in a little, as opposed to cutting at a 90 degree angle. Season breasts all over with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat an oven-proof frying pan over a med-high flame until hot. Don't use oil, there's plenty in the duck skin.
Lay the duck, skin-side-down in the hot pan and leave for 5-6 minutes until there is a pale, golden crispness to the skin and a lot of fat has rendered out.  Turn the breasts over and put the pan into the oven to finish cooking for 12-15 more minutes, depending on the size. The breasts I cooked were quite large and were medium-rare after 15 minutes.

Remove the duck breasts from the oven and move them to a warm plate to rest for ten minutes (very important!) and check the potatoes. If the potatoes are gold and crispy, turn the oven off but leave them in there while you do the asparagus.

In the same pan that you made the citrus butter, add a touch more butter and add the orange and lemon juice. Reduce the liquid by about half and add the asparagus. Cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes, depending on thickness.

To serve, slice the rested duck breasts into 2cm (3/4") pieces and arrange on warm plates with some of the roasted, crushed new potatoes and the asparagus. Top the asparagus with a teaspoon or two of the citrus butter and sit down with some candles and a lovely bottle of red wine.

Duck Breasts on FoodistaDuck Breasts


  1. this looks and sounds so perfect - I am now craving duck breast and its still morning

  2. Beautiful! I've never tried duck, can you believe that??? I know, I'm ashamed of it too LOL. Your duck looks delicious, great choices on the side dishes too :) Simply lovely!

  3. I wish I knew a good place to source duck but I just don't see it around here. I mean, obviously restaurants stock it, but I don't ever see it at market or in the grocery stores. I might be able to get it at some of the big box places but I don't generally like to get my meats/poultry/etc from those places.

    I do love it, but I've never tried preparing it at home.

  4. Yummy smurf! Another one of my weaknesses-duck. I love it, though I try to avoid it. Yours looks great though, Emily!

  5. You know Liam, I can't remember where I bought it when I live in the States. There was a lovely (but 'spensive) grocery store chain in AZ called AJ's that I got some breasts from before. Maybe Whole Foods? I can't remember if Trader Joe's carried it or not.
    Andrea, definitely try duck when you come across it in a nice restaurant. It's so much nicer and juicier than chicken by a country mile!

  6. I've never had duck before. :O I didn't even know you didn't have to cook it all the way like with chicken haha.

    It looks marvelous though. If I ever see it on sale (not that I've ever seen it, period) I'll be sure to try it. :)

  7. You are brave. I've yet to cook duck, but this looks just lovely!

  8. A terrific romantic meal! I haven't made duck in so long, need to do that soon!

  9. It's been ages since I ate duck, but I do love the bird. You've inspired me to maybe take a stab at it again. This looks delicious!

  10. I wish I was the eat to live type, then i wouldn't be obsessing about eating all the time! Duck is lovely for a romantic meal, and yours looks delicious. I usually do some type of pasta with a creamy sauce.

  11. I know what you mean Susan, but isn't it great to be a food obsessive? I mean, we have to cook to feed ourselves properly, so isn't it great that we get to enjoy what is a chore to so many people?

    Thanks for all your lovely comments guys!