- 4 duck breast
- Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the red cabbage;
- 1 large red cabbage, shredded
- 1tblsp sea salt
- 1bottle of red wine
- 250ml red wine vinegar
- 50g brown sugar
- 50g red currant jelly
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 juniper berries
- 2 sprigs of thyme, chopped
- For the polenta;
- 50g butter
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 sticks of celery finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 500ml chicken stock
- 200g coarse polenta
- ½tsp Maldon salt
- ½tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 150g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- For the parsnip puree;
- 3 large parsnips
- 1tblsp butter
- 3tblsp olive oil
- 60ml chicken stock
- 120ml double cream
- Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the parsnip crisps;
- 3 parsnips, scrubbed, peeled and cleaned
- Rapeseed oil, for deep frying
- 2 tsp Maldon salt
- For the sauce;
- 1 sprigs of thyme
- 1 garlic clove
- 100g cherries marinated in kirsch
- 200ml Kirsch
- 50ml calvados
- 100ml white wine
- 200ml chicken stock
- 500ml beef jus
- To serve;
- Fresh chervil
- Baby onions, cut in half and roast until tender
I love this dish with all of the lovely deep winter flavours. The gamey flavour of the duck is really comes alive when eaten with the Kirsch cherries and the red cabbage. And the very smooth sweet earthy taste that comes from the parsnip puree.
I have served this dish with polenta, which makes a change from the normal meat and potato combination. Polenta is a golden-yellow Italian cornmeal made from dried, ground maize (corn), and also the name given to the savoury cornmeal porridge that’s made by mixing cornmeal with water and simmering and stirring until it thickens – a staple dish of northern Italy. Polenta can be ground coarse or fine and is widely used in the southern states of America to make a variety of dishes, including cornbread, because maize is a major crop in the US.
If you are not fond of polenta this dish eats equally well with potato gratin, potato fondant or a velvety smooth mash.
For the red cabbage;
Toss the cabbage in the sea salt, cover with cling film and leave to go limp in the fridge over night. Rinse well and drain. Place the remaining ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil, add the cabbage and turn down the heat to a simmer, leave to simmer for 1 hour, stirring all the time, remove from the heat and strain of any excess liquid. Place the cabbage into a container and pour over a little of the liquid, cool and store in the fridge for a couple of days to allow the flavours to develop.
For the polenta;
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat; add onion, celery, and garlic, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil; gradually stir in the polenta and season with the salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring continuously for approx 10 mins. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish; cover and chill 3 to 12 hours or until firm. When the polenta has set cut into small squares.
For the parsnip puree;
Peel the parsnips, cut out the core and cut into small chunks. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan. Add the potatoes and parsnips and fry for about five minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add the double cream and cook until almost completely reduced. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Using a blender, blend the vegetables, in batches to a very smooth purée, pass through a sieve into a clean pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the parsnip crisps;
Top and tail the parsnips. Using a sharp mandolin or a swivel vegetable peeler, slice the parsnips lengthways as thinly as possible, into long, thick strips. Dry the strips very well on a clean tea towel.
Heat a deep fat fryer or heavy-based saucepan to 180c. Deep-fry the parsnip slices in the hot fat, a handful at a time, stirring occasionally to ensure that they don’t stick together, for about 2-3 minutes until they colour. Do not try and fry to many at once as they will stick together and become soggy.
As soon as they are ready, remove the parsnip crisps with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Season with the Maldon salt. As the parsnips drain, they will dry out and crisp up.
For the sauce;
Place thyme, garlic, cherries and Kirsch in a pan and flame. Add white wine and reduce by ¾. Add chicken stock and reduce by ½. Add the beef stock and simmer until the sauce is reduced to the perfect consistency and taste. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and season to taste. Keep hot.
Lightly score the skin of the duck breasts, and then season well. Place a non-stick pan over a medium heat, and then lay the duck in the pan, skin-side down. Cook until the fat starts to come from the duck. Turn down the heat, and then continue to cook for 7-8mins, depending on the size of the duck breast, until the skin is really crisp and brown. As it cooks, pour the fat into a large pan for the cabbage.
Flip the duck over, cook on the flesh side for 2-3mins only until browned, then turn off the heat (this will result in meat that is pink in the middle – cook for a few minutes longer if you like it well done). Leave the duck in the pan to rest.
Melt 1tblsp butter in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add 6 polenta squares, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a serving dish, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining polenta and butter, you will 16 pieces in total.
Warm the red cabbage, parsnip puree, baby onions and sauce.
Cut each duck breast into 3 and place in the centre of the plate as shown. Place 4 pieces of pan fried polenta between the duck breast. Place 2 onion halves and 2 cherries on top of the polenta squares.
Spoon a little parsnip puree in front of the duck and two spoonfuls (quenelles) of red cabbage above the duck. Spoon the sauce over the plate and garnish with chervil and parsnip crisps.