Friday, February 11, 2011

Pan-fried Duck Breasts with Red Wine Sauce

I absolutely love duck but it is definitely something that we only really eat for a special occasion meal (though I'm not really sure why!). If you've never tried it please do – as long as you are a meat eater I'm sure you will love it! The key is to keep it pink so that the meat is melt in your mouth – just like you would eat a steak. The red wine sauce is the perfect accompaniment and goes so well with the caramelized shallots.

I appreciate that serving Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes might not be your idea of something to eat for a romantic meal, however my theory is as long as you're both eating it, then it's fine! That being said if you'd rather miss out the roasted garlic you can easily serve plain mashed potatoes or add some finely chopped herbs such as parsley and chives to make it herb mashed potatoes.

As promised here is my 'Get Ahead' plan to ensure you're not frantically running around at the last minute trying to get everything organised! Have fun and enjoy!

Things you can do in Advance:

*Roast the garlic
*Make the red wine sauce
*Peel and cut the potatoes then put in a pan of cold water
*Prepare the shallots – as far as peeling and if necessary cutting.
*Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the tough, woody bottom.
*Prepare the duck – remove any excess fat and score the top as per recipe.

Serves 2 (easily doubled although the sauce is enough for 4)

For the Duck and Red Wine Sauce:
2 duck breasts
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tsp fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried)
250ml red wine
Salt and pepper
Small knob of butter

For the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
1 bulb of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
750g potatoes
25g butter
50ml milk, warmed
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (optional)

For the Caramelized Shallots:
6-8 shallots
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

To Serve:
Asparagus (or other green veg of your choice)
Small knob of butter
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.

Start by preparing the garlic for the mashed potatoes. Cut the top off the garlic bulb about 1cm down (not the end that has the root). The idea is to expose all the cloves so that they turn golden as they cook and the flavour mellows. Place on a square of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the garlic and season with a little salt and pepper and then drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap securely in the foil and place in the oven on a medium shelf for approximately 40 minutes. When ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

While the garlic is roasting make the red wine sauce. Heat the oil in a small pan and gently sauté the onion or shallots for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute before adding the balsamic vinegar. Increase the heat and cook until the vinegar has evaporated (a few minutes). Add the redcurrant jelly, thyme, wine and seasoning and leave to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring from time to time. If you prefer, make the sauce in advance then simply reheat before serving.

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks then pop in a pot filled with cold salted water. Cover with a tight fitting lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for approximately 20 minutes or until they are tender.

While the potatoes are cooking prepare the shallots. Add the shallots to a pan of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle, then remove the skins and set aside. If you have any large shallots cut them in half so that they are all similar in size.

Trim any excess fat from the duck breasts and then score the skin with a roughly 5 or 6 diagonal cuts – be careful that you only score the skin and don't cut through to the meat. Season the skin side with some salt and pepper.

Heat a large frying pan until hot and add the duck breasts, skin side down. Cook over a high heat until the skin is golden brown and crispy then turn and cook for another 30 seconds (watch 'cause there will be a lot of fat in the pan and it will spit!!) Remove from the pan and put in an oven proof dish and place in the oven, skin side up, for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven when ready, transfer to a plate then cover with foil and leave to rest.

Meanwhile, finish cooking the shallots. Melt the butter in a pan that has a lid and add the shallots, sugar and seasoning. Cover with the lid and cook over a medium heat for approx. 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until tender and caramelized.

Boil some water for the asparagus in a pan. Prepare the asparagus by ‘snapping’ off the woody bottoms. (Take one stem of asparagus, hold it at both ends and bend it – it will snap naturally near the bottom.) Once the water is boiling add a good pinch of salt and cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes (depending on how thick they are) then drain. Return to the pan and add the butter. Cover with a lid and keep warm.

Drain the potatoes when they are ready and mash well with the butter and warmed milk. Squeeze in roughly half of the garlic cloves from the bottom of the bulb and mash into the potatoes. It may seem like a lot of garlic but the flavour will be far less intense than raw garlic and almost sweet. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley if using.

When ready to serve, spoon some of the mashed potato onto each plate then slice the duck into approx. 6 pieces and arrange on each serving plate on top of the potatoes. Add the vegetables and the top with the red wine sauce and serve immediately, then sit back and enjoy your delicious meal with a glass of wine!


  1. can i leave out the vinegar for the sauce?

  2. The photo is simply mouth-watering! Your family and guests will definitely enjoy this meal. Not only is duck meal healthy but the combination of red wine sauce is certainly a must-try, thanks!

  3. I just did this meal using this recipe. Oh wow, stunned beyond belief, so easy to follow and resulted in the easily best thing I've ever cooked!


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