In which marmalade meets duck and stays home for dinner.
Why do we not cook duck at home more often?
1/ “Because it’s fatty”.
But the fat renders in the pan and you just drain it off.
2/ “Because it’s difficult to find.”
You can buy two duck breasts at any good supermarket, and freeze them until you’re feeling ducky.
3/ “Because it’s hard to cook”.
Ten minutes skin-side down, 5 minutes skin-side up, and you get crisped skin and a pale pink blush inside. What’s so hard?
Now that I’ve demolished all arguments and prejudices (sorry), it’s time to introduce duck breast to an instant flavour-hit that you already have in the cupboard, that adds deliciousness, and that helps the skin to caramelise until darkly burnished and gleaming.
Just slather it on the scored skin as if it were a piece of toast, and proceed. Slowly. Don’t push the heat of the pan too high, or you will have duck a la noir instead of duck a l’orange.
Then as the duck rests for five minutes, make a quick sauce of marmalade, soy sauce and mandarin or orange juice, letting it bubble away until it’s dark and sticky, like a fruity teriyaki.
You want a side? The current favourite around here is mashed sweet potato spiked with smoked paprika. Recipe below, but you don’t really need one - just peel, chunk, boil, drain, mash with butter and mandarin or orange juice, sea salt, pepper and paprika and serve alongside.
2 duck breasts
1 tbsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mandarin juice
1 slice mandarin, halved
Sea salt and black pepper
Spread the scored skin (tips below) with marmalade as if it were toast.
Place the duck skin-side down in a cold fry-pan and cook over gentle heat for 8 to 10 minutes, draining off the fat as it renders. The skin should colour to a coppery brown.
Turn and cook gently for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how pink you like it.
Rest the duck in a warm place for 5 minutes, while you make a quick sauce.
Combine marmalade, soy sauce, mandarin juice and mandarin slice and heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lush and syrupy. Adjust quantities until you love it.
Carve the duck, returning any juices to the sauce.
Serve on a warm plate, season well, and spoon the marmalade sauce over the top. Serves two.
TIP: Remove the duck from its packaging as soon as you get home, wipe it dry with paper towel, place on a plate, uncovered, and store in the fridge. This will help dry out the skin to guarantee crispness. Same goes for chicken.
TIP: Score the skin of the duck with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern, without cutting into the meat. This helps the fat under the skin to render into the pan.
TIP: Keep an eye out for the sugars in the marmalade burning, but make sure you get a nice deep colour. Also, drain off the fat as it pools, to keep the pan clean.
SWEET POTATO AND PAPRIKA MASH:
Peel one sweet potato, cut into chunks and cook in simmering salted water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, return to the pan, add butter, sea salt, pepper and paprika to taste, and mash. If it’s a bit dry, add some chicken or veggie stock, or milk, or some of the cooking water and beat with a wooden spoon. Serve hot.
BUTTERY BRUSSEL SPROUTS:
Wash and trim the sprouts, keeping any leaves that fall off (they’re so cute). Slice the sprouts crosswise, not lengthwise and cook (with the leaves as well) in simmering salted water for 4 minutes or until tender but still bright green. Drain well and toss with a happy-making amount of butter and/or olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to subscribe for more Jill Dupleix Eats in your inbox every Thursday. And special thanks to my right-hand man, Terry Durack - who must always have marmalade within five metres or he starts getting twitchy - for the inspiration.
I would also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and waters upon which I work, live, cook and play; the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I fully support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to be enshrined in Australia’s Constitution. It’s about time, folks.