Duck with Cherries and Chicory
We use free range Devonshire Ducks from a company called Creedy Carver near Crediton. The ducks are top drawer – we use all of the animal from legs in confit, livers for parfait and offal in faggots.
Ask your butcher if you can have it on the crown so as that you can use some of the bones for a stock/sauce. Duck is strong in flavour and is very fatty so it takes a strong fruit/vegetable to compliment it. The classic duck l’orange is timeless, but this is a more seasonal version that’s great for a dinner party and is a one pan wonder.
Cherries x 400g
Chicory x 2
Duck Crown x 1 breast weighing roughly 8-9oz
Onion, Carrot and Leek x 100g each chopped roughly, for the sauce
Honey x 100g
White Wine Vinegar x 80 ml
Streaky, smoked bacon – A few slices
Thyme x 3 sprigs
Butter – Knob of
Port – 70ml
Earlier in the day de-stone cherries and place in a pan. Add 300ml of water, 1 star anise, cinnamon stick, 100g honey and 80ml of white wine vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook until soft. As in the finished picture we blend half so as to have a puree. You can do this or simply leave in the liquor.
Chicory in the summer receives more light which makes it bitter. When braised as we’re doing, it mellows the flavour. Remove outer leaves wash and put in fridge for dressing later. Cut the bulb in half and seal in a frying pan (heart of the vegetable facing down. Add 20g of the diced onion, carrot and leek and some streaky smoked bacon. Add water until level. Cover and place in the oven at 140C for 35 minutes. When cooked, remove from liquor and keep stock for the sauce.
For the sauce – colour the bones in a pan with a sprinkling of flour. Add a knob of butter and 3 sprigs of thyme. Remove from heat. Add 70ml of port or the wine you’re drinking to deglaze the pan and reduce. Add the braising liquor and adjust with chicken stock or veal demi-glace. Strain off and use later.
With the above all done in advance you just have the cooking of the duck to focus on. Score lightly with a sharp knife and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Place the breast skin side down on a medium heat with a dash of oil at the start. As the fat begins to render (as in below photo) the fat will be released in the pan, so spoon or pour out of pan in to a container. Keeping an eye on it render the fat for 6-8 minutes make sure it’s not on too high a heat as it will burn.
Turnover and lower heat and cook for another 3-4 minutes. At this stage remove all fat from the pan and add your cooked cherries, chicory and sauce.
Plate up and try not to lick your fingers too often.
Keep the rendered duck fat for Sunday roasties – yum yum. Oh, and left over cherries – keep them for a bakewell tart or mash through some vanilla ice cream with almonds.