print this recipe »
requires Adobe Reader, get it here »
« back


Aromatic, sweet, unctuous, filling the house with the scent of Christmas - good red cabbage is pure joy. The secret is getting the right balance between sweetness and warmth supplied by golden syrup, cinnamon and cloves and astringency from red wine and vinegar. Cooking in goose fat makes a huge difference, adding depth and richness.

Duck breasts are great as they lend a luxury to a dish that chicken can never achieve. They should be served pink, with a crisp but thin layer of fat. To achieve this, they need to be given time in the pan, rendering down the fat and crisping up the surface of the skin.

1. Halve and quarter the red cabbage. Cut out the toughest inner core, then shred.

2. Peel, halve and finely chop the onion. Peel and roughly chop the apple.

3. Melt the goose fat in a large, saucepan. Add the shredded cabbage, chopped onion and apple. Stir while it takes on a nice shiny gloss from the hot fat. Add the golden syrup and stir over fairly high heat for another minute or two. Add the vinegar, jelly or black currant squash and spices. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour over the red wine and about a third of the water.

4. Cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to simmer for approximately 2 hours. Give the red cabbage a stir, and check the seasoning - it will probably need a little more salt and pepper and may need adjusting for sweetness and acidity. If it looks too dry, top up with a little water. The cabbage should be veering towards tawny in colour, and have a mellow, aromatic and well balanced flavour by the time it is cooked.

5. This cabbage will benefit from being made a day or two in advance and being kept in the fridge until ready to be served. Gently reheat, adding a tablespoon of butter to lend shine.

6. Score the fat of the duck to create a criss-cross pattern.

7. Heat a dry cast-iron frying pan and place the breasts fat side down.

8. Cook over a medium heat, rendering down the fat. This will take a good 10-12 minutes and should result in breasts with only a very thin layer of fat under a crisp and golden surface. You may need to siphon off some surplus fat.

9. Season the flesh side with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper before turning over. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.

10. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the duck breast to rest for 10 minutes.

11. Slice thickly on the diagonal and serve with red cabbage.

Recipe provided by


1 large red cabbage

2-3 tablespoons of goose fat

1 aromatic dessert apple such as Cox Orange

1 red onion

3-4 tablespoons golden syrup

2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

5-6 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

A pinch of allspice

2 tablespoons red currant or other fruit jelly, or concentrated black currant squash

1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

50ml red wine

50-100ml water

1 tablespoon butter

1 duck breast per person

website by