Duck is so versatile. The rich, sweet, tender meat pairs wonderfully with a myriad of flavours. Just as great with red wine and rosemary as it is with this stunningly delicious sauce of orange, soy and ginger. Citrus flavours are lovely with duck, with honey enhancing its natural sweetness and providing a natural foil to the fiery ginger and deeply savoury soy. All marry perfectly to make a fragrant sauce that brings a little of the exotic to the duck whilst pairing rather beautifully with some crispy little potatoes and red cabbage. Fusion at its best!
It is important to remember that the deep layer of fat that lies under the duck skin needs to be rendered out. This can then be used to roast your little potatoes, so no waste there and you will be rewarded with a crisp, burnished blanket of duck skin with pink, tender meat beneath. A treat for two.
Any winter brassica is great with this but I particularly love the deeply purple red cabbage that has the added advantage of being all the better for early prepping.
2 duck breasts
1/2 an orange (blush or normal) (use the other half for the cabbage)
100ml fresh chicken stock
Half a teaspoon fennel, freshly ground
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger
knob of butter
Three medium sized king edward potatoes.
1/4 small red cabbage, finely sliced
knob butter and a teaspoon of rapeseed oil
1/2 an orange
a small star anise
A little water
Sea salt and black papper
Pre-heat the oven to 200c
Take a small frying pan. Slash the skin of the duck breasts in three or four long lines taking care not to go through to the flesh underneath. Season the duck well and rub some fennel into the skin.
Put the breast skin side down in the cold pan and put onto a gentle heat. Leave to render for about fifteen minutes or until all the fat has run out into the pan and the skin is golden and crispy underneath.
Meanwhile peel and cut the potatoes into small pieces. Put into a baking tray and pour all the hot duck fat over. Season well and put into a hot oven for about half an hour, turning every ten minutes.
Remove the duck from the pan and put skin side up on a plate. Drizzle some honey over the duck skin. Leave to one side while you get on with the red cabbage and the sauce.
Slice the cabbage very finely. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan and add in the cabbage. Stir around and season well. Add the rind of half an orange, the star anise and a splash of water. Put the lid on and simmer, stirring occasionally for about ten to fifteen minutes until the cabbage is very soft and glossy. Add in the orange juice and adjust the seasoning.
When the potatoes are half way through their cooking time sit the duck breasts on top of them and put back in the hot oven for about five minutes. Then take the breasts out and leave to rest in a warm place (not in any oven, even a cool one!!). Make sure they are on something that can catch any excess juices.
Put the duck frying pan back on the heat and add in the chicken stock. Simmer hard to reduce and then add the soy sauce, orange juice and rind, freshly grated ginger and seasoning. Add a teaspoon of honey or more to taste. Whisk in a knob of butter to give the sauce a shine. Pour any duck juices on the sauce.
Carve the duck lengthways (it looks so much better this way) and serve on the potatoes and cabbage. Drizzle the jus over and around.