We’re going away tomorrow for a few days for our friend Jo Traff’s 30th (40th!) birthday. That’s only relevant to you as far as it means that I am posting this sooner than I otherwise would have, because it would have been unkind to keep this from you for too long.
Rob and I spent part of our honeymoon in Paris, almost entirely for the duck. We found one restaurant, Scossa (see, I still remember over 5 years later) who made such incredible duck that we went back and ordered it three times in one week. So you see, I like my duck.
It’s not often that we find it in the average South African supermarket, so I was quacking happy to see some up for grabs the other day (I know). And this was not just any duck, but ‘happy, free-range duck. Double yay.
Serves 2 | Preparation time 10 minutes | Cooking time 10 minutes
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to season
1/2 tsp dried coriander powder
2 happy, plump duck breasts
4 Tbsp runny honey
1 medium bag mixed salad leaves, rinsed (we used baby spinach and watercress)
1 ripe avocado (optional)
Seeds of 1/2 a pomegranate (optional)
For the spiced plums
4 ripe plums
2/3 Cup red wine
4 cloves, 3 bruised cardamom pods, 1/2 stick cinnamon (don’t worry if you don’t have all of them)
1 Tbsp sugar
WHAT TO DO
1. Cut each plum roughly into sixths, removing the stones. Add the plums, whine, spices and sugar to a small saucepan and leave to simmer gently for at least 10 minutes. Remove the plums and set aside, leaving the liquid to reduce further.
2. Meanwhile, ‘score’ the duck breasts by slicing through the skin at 1cm intervals. Season with salt and pepper and the coriander.
3. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and then on the stovetop heat a good quality pan along with the olive oil.
4. Fry the duck breasts skin side down for 3-4 minutes until golden. This process will also render a lot of the fat out of the duck skin. Turn the breasts over, drain the fat out of the pan, and place in the oven (on transfer to an ovenproof dish if your pan is not ovenproof), drizzle over the honey and cook for a further 5-7 minutes in the oven. Remove the breasts when they are still quite pink in the middle and leave to rest, covered with tinfoil.
5. Meanwhile prepare your salad, topping with the plums and avocado if you have. Then thinly slice the duck against the grain, add to the salad and dress with the red wine reduction.
*You could also use pears or nectarines instead of plums and you could grill instead of poaching, and use a dressing of honey, mustard, lemon juice/balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
*Reserve the duck fat for the next time you make roast potatoes, it makes the most amazingly crispy and delicious roasties.