PAN FRIED BREAST OF DUCK WITH SEASONAL RED CABBAGE
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
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.
the flesh side with sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper before turning over. Cook for another
the pan from the heat and leave the duck breast
to rest for 10 minutes.
thickly on the diagonal and serve with red cabbage.
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