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Duck Breast with Redcurrant and Port Sauce

Duck Breast with Redcurrant and Port Sauce

Duck Breast with Redcurrant and Port Sauce

Duck is my favourite poultry.  That said though, for some reason I seemed to struggle when cooking it.  Overcooking, undercooking, drying it out or ending up with a smoke filled house because of all that hot duck fat.  I decided it was time to focus on getting it right.  Getting it right every time.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Ingredients for 4 Servings
For the Duck
4 x duck breasts (skin on) each weighing about 180gr / 6.3 oz. to 200gr / 7 oz. (give or take)
Some rough sea salt
Freshly Ground Black pepper

For the Redcurrant and Port Sauce
300ml / 10 fl. oz. good quality chicken stock
200gr / 7 oz. red currants
20gr / 0.7 oz. unsalted butter
1 x shallot chopped finely
2 x tsp of fresh thyme leaves
4 x tsp of port (ruby or tawny)
2 x tbsp of honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

For the Duck

  1. Put the oven on to heat it to 200°C/400°F. While the oven is heating, start the cooking process in a heavy bottomed frying pan/skillet.
  2. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the skin side of the duck and rub it in.
  3. Place your pan on the hob/stove top. Put the duck breasts in the cold pan, skin side down. Turn on the heat to medium high and allow the duck to cook, leave it alone while this happens. If it starts to smoke too much, turn down the heat a little.
  4. Once you can see that the duck has cooked about a little more than half way by looking at the side of it to see the colour change, it should be transferred to the oven. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes, but of course it depends on the thickness of your duck and the intensity of the heat you use to cook it. You can do this in your pan if it has a metal handle, or you can transfer the duck to a roasting tray if your pan has a plastic or other unsuitable handle which won’t withstand the heat of the oven. I do the latter. If you are planning to do this too, heat the roasting tray in the oven beforehand. The easiest way to do this is to place it in there whilst you wait for the oven to reach temperature. The duck should be placed in the oven skin side down.
  5. Once in the oven, cook it for a further 7 to 10 minutes.
  6. Remove and allow to rest for a further 7 minutes before slicing it.

Duck Breast with Redcurrant and Port Sauce

For the Redcurrant and Port Sauce

  1. Place half the butter in a pan and allow it to melt. Then add the shallots and cook them until softened on a medium high heat.
  2. Add the thyme, chicken stock, port, honey and a little salt and pepper. Add about ¾ of the red currants, keeping the rest back to add at the end of cooking.
  3. Turn up the heat to reduce the sauce until it is about 1/3 of its original volume.
  4. Turn down the heat, add the rest of the butter and whisk through until it is melted. Add the remaining berries, check for seasoning and serve poured over the duck.

Tips and Variations

  • It may seem strange to start the duck cooking on a low heat. After all, I’m always going on about getting pans hot before placing meat in them. The reason for this cold start with the duck is that it helps render the fat from the meat gradually, giving an even cook and a crispy skin.
  • The sauce works really well with cherries and blackberries too. Normally they are a little sweeter than redcurrants, so you could cut down on the amount of honey or add a squeeze of orange juice to balance the flavour should you prefer.
  • The redcurrant sauce works nicely with venison and other game birds like pheasant, partridge and quail. I have been known to serve it with game sausages, or a game pie which is great too.
  • You can make the sauce in advance and heat it up when you are ready to serve. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.
  • Keep the duck fat and use it to make roast potatoes.

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Duck Breast with Redcurrant and Port Sauce