Rose's February Shop Watch: Duck Breasts
Select Farms British 2 Duck Breast Portions
Supper parties sorted
Duck can often be forgotten. Beef, lamb, pork and chicken occupy most of my Sunday lunch slots. I do cook a duck from time to time but then it needs to be ordered from my butchers and only feeds 4 people. I love confit of duck and try to keep a few in my fridge for last minute supper parties. I have made them myself but find myself feeling that I am swimming in the fat, so I tend to buy them from Mr Duck, who I have written about before. But I have never really got on with the French magret of duck. I find them too dense, too unyielding. I have mistaken them before now as beef or lamb when being served one, and even then found them a bit tough. So, I have tended to ignore all breasts of duck on the supermarket shelves.
But I wanted to try out a pairing of spelt which I wrote about last month with duck breasts in balsamic vinegar. I bought the British duck breasts from M&S and cooked them skin side down in a frying pan until golden, turned them for about a minute then transferred them to a baking sheet to finish the cooking in the oven. While the breasts were resting, I added balsamic vinegar to the juices and poured this over the sliced meat for serving. The result was delicious – slightly pink, moist, and above all tender. I have served this to many of my friends and the reaction has been the same with the comment “why don’t we eat more duck at home”.
I then decided to try out some different ways to serve the breasts. I added orange juice to the juices after the cooking, with a little cornflour and some orange segments for the classic combination of duck à l’orange, which was simple and refreshing. I then turned to Delia for inspiration. I made the port and sour cherry sauce she suggests for confit of duck which complements them beautifully and elevates the duck to dinner party status. The sauce can be made in advance and the duck takes only about 15 minutes in all to cook. An even quicker cherry sauce is combining morello cherry jam with red wine. Or you could try the confit of cranberries – don’t forget cranberries are not just for Christmas! The cranberries are simmered with red wine and orange and “end up a concentrated mass of glazed cranberries”. Or, try her rhubarb and ginger confit – the tartness of the rhubarb going so well with the richness of the duck.
And finally, I tried a Chinese take by rubbing the skin of the breasts with Chinese five spice before cooking, then adding soy sauce to the juices at the end and serving them with noodles dressed in sesame oil.
I am converted. Duck is definitely on the menu here. Supper parties sorted. I’ve taken to duck like a duck takes to water.
See Delia's recipes using Duck here
Out for a duck
M&S Select Farms British 2 Duck Breast Portions
Price and availability as at 31st January 2023