Not that long ago duck breast was considered something best left in the capable hands of chefs. Yet it is one of the easiest and most reliable of meats a home cook can prepare. Good quality duck does have a delicate flavour which can easily be overwhelmed, so simple always remains best. Ingredients that work well include citrus, stone fruit, honey and roast root vegetables.
This recipe puts a little twist on the usual pairings. The bittersweet flavours of the grapefruit lemonade pairs beautifully with the succulent duck breast. The vegetables are light in texture with an earthy, complimentary flavour. You don’t need luck or expensive equipment – simply follow the steps and you will be quacking.
Grapefruit Lemonade Duck Breast with Bok Choy, Rainbow Carrots and Roast Sweet Potato Mash
- 4 duck breasts
- 1 Large sweet potato
- 8 small bunches of Bok Choy
- 12 baby Rainbow carrots or alternatively normal baby carrots
- ½ cup fresh Coriander
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 cup of Grapefruit Lemonade
- 2 tablespoons Verjuice
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh ground Himalayan Pink Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper added to your taste.
- 1 teaspoon of cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons of cold water right before using.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius / 400 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 6.
Lay duck breasts skin down on a baking tray and freeze for 30 minutes. Once the fat has firmed up, carefully scored the skin.
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into small evenly sized pieces. Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until soft and browning. Mash the sweet potatoes and add honey. Enrich with two to three tablespoons of rendered duck fat when reheating.
Peel carrots and place on a baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and one tablespoon of Verjuice. Roast until the carrots are soft and start to darken
Trim the bottom of the Bok Choy and split lengthwise down the middle. Wash thoroughly.
Wash coriander. Remove stalks and reserve for later use.
Place pan on a medium heat. Season skin of duck breast. Sear the skin side of the breast first. Once golden, seal the rest of the meat. Pour of the rendered fat into a container. Return pan to the heat and pour in a ⅓ cup of the grapefruit lemonade. Lightly steam the duck breast for a few seconds. Place the breasts into a baking tray and pour a little of the cooking liquor into the tray. Cook for eight to ten minutes. Rest for at least five minutes and then slice.
Return the pan to a high heat and pour in the rest of the grapefruit lemonade. Reduce by two thirds. Add in one tablespoon of Verjuice and the remained of the cooking liquor. Any juices left in the tray used to cook the breasts may also be added along with three or four coriander stalks.
Thicken sauce with the cornflour slurry.
In a clean pan gently heat two teaspoon of duck fat and garlic. Increase the heat and add the sauté the Bok Choy until tender.
Add carrots and heat through.
Step 1: Preparation
Read through the entire recipe and have all your ingredients together. The real secret to a successful dish is preparing properly before cooking even starts.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius / 400 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas mark 6.
Step 2: Scoring the duck breasts
When cooking any type of meat you have two rules which ensures a well cooked meal. The meat must be dry and at room temperature prior to cooking.
For ease of handling, you need to add an extra step when preparing duck breasts. The skin covers a luxurious layer of fat which will melt once you start handling it. Lay the breasts skin down on a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to score the skin.
To score the skin use a gentle pressure to cut diagonal lines into the skin and fat. Turn the breast and continue with diagonal lines to create an attractive diamond effect. You don’t want to cut through to the meat so be careful.
Step 3: Preparing your vegetables
Sweet potatoes: Peel and cut your sweet potato into small evenly sized pieces.. Toss with the olive oil and season with Himalayan pink salt and black pepper. Place in a tray on the bottom shelf of the oven and roast until soft and the edges are turning golden brown.
This can taken up to one and a half hours depending on your cube size. When ready all you need to do is check the seasoning and mash with the honey. This can be done a few hours in advance to save time.
When the fat has been rendered from the duck breast you will add some of the fat instead of butter to finish off the mash.
Rainbow carrots: Lightly peel your rainbow carrots, taking care not to strip away too much.
Coat lightly with olive oil and one tablespoon of Verjuice. Roast until cooked and starting to darken.
Bok Choy: Slice the Bok Choy lengthwise down the middle and trim the end of the base away. Wash thoroughly and set aside to be cooked last minute.
Coriander: Gently submerge the coriander in cool water to rinse. Remove the stalks and keep to the side for later.
Step 4: Cooking the duck breasts
Once the duck breasts are ready and back to room temperature, put your pan on a medium heat. Season the scored skin of each breast generously with salt and pepper.
Place the breast skin down in the pan and allow to cook until the skin has reached a beautiful golden crispness.
Turn over and seal the rest of the meat.
Decant the rendered duck fat into a container. Immediately return the pan to the heat and pour in a ⅓ cup of the grapefruit lemonade. Once all the steam has dissipated, move your duck breasts to the oven tray.
Pour a little of the cooking liquor into the tray and transfer to the preheated oven for eight to ten minutes.
Be sure to rest the meat before slicing for at least five minutes. You don’t want to lose any of those delicious juices!
Step 5: The sauce
Remove the cooking liquor from the pan and keep to the side for a moment. Return the pan to a high heat and pour the rest of the Grapefruit lemonade into the pan. Allow to reduce down by
about two thirds. Add the other tablespoon of Verjuice to the sauce.
Add the cooking liquor back into the pan, along with three or four coriander stalks. Bruise the stalk with a knife handle or bottom of a cup before adding them.
You do not want the sauce to reduce too much as the bitterness of the Grapefruit will come through too strong. A chef trick here is to add a cornflour slurry. This is a flavourless thickening agent which, once added, only needs to be brought to a boil.
Whisk in the slurry and bring to a boil. If the sauce is too thick for your liking you can add a splash of water and keep whisking until smooth.
Step 6: Prepare the Bok Choy
Pour about two teaspoons of duck fat into a clean cold pan. Add in the garlic and slowly heat to release the flavours. Once the pan is hot and the garlic is just turning colour add the moist Bok Choy and quickly cook it until tender. The water from the Bok Choy should prevent the garlic from burning but keep an eye on it.
Add the carrots to the pan to heat them through.
Step 7: Bringing it all together
Heat up the sweet potato mash and add in two or three tablespoons of the rendered fat. Mix thoroughly. Place three quenelles of the sweet potato mash on the plate. This is achieved by using two teaspoons or dinner spoons and scooping the mash between them create little foot ball shapes.
A roasted rainbow carrot is propped on each quenelle.
Next create a nest with the garlic Bok Choy in the center of your plate and fan out the succulent slices of pink duck on top. Sauce the dish with the grapefruit lemonade glace and a sprig of fresh coriander.
A flat duck breast will require the shorter cooking time and is approximately an inch thick once sealed. A fat duck breast will require the longer cooking and is approximately an inch and a half once sealed.
Do not overcrowd your pan as it will cool down the cooking surface and you run the risk of overcooking the meat.
Don’t move your duck breasts around too much once they are in the pan. Only ensure that they do not stick.
Simply place a spoonful of the sweet potato mash in the centre of the plate. The Bok Choy is positioned on top of that. Lay the carrots spread out side by side and arrange the duck on top.
Duck breast is considered a very romantic ingredient. Consider preparing it for the object of your affection and enjoy together.