Duck a l’oráiste because I forgot to buy rhubarb

Hold onto your hats. This is a savoury recipe. Having been encouraged/berated by sister no. 3 and my husband I feel it is time to post something dinnery. Despite sounding painfully naf it is pretty tasty and not at all complicated. As I mentioned I would usually make this particular dish with rhubarb but rhubarb I did not have so orange it was.

Makes dinner for two

Oven temperature 200 Celsius

New potatoes             7 – don’t blindly follow this, if you’re hungry use more

Butter                          40g

Vegetable oil               1 generous glug

Duck breasts               2

Orange                         1

Shallot                          1

Red wine                      1 glass – use whatever you want to drink with dinner

Green beans                 16 – an approximation


Preheat the oven. Fill a saucepan with water and place on a high heat. Chop the potatoes into euro coin by 1cm pieces and once the water reaches a boil pop in the potato chunks. Turn down to medium and let it blip away for 15mins.

In the meantime – score the duck breasts using a sharp knife. Make sure to slice through all the fat but not into the meat itself. If you score it in diamonds it’ll look fierce swanky when it’s cooked. Season well on the skin side.

scored and seasoned
scored and seasoned

Find yourself a baking tray and put the butter and oil onto it. When your potatoes have had their 15min bath drain them well and pour onto the fatty baking tray. Season well and toss to coat with all the butter and oil. Place into the oven.

Put an ovenproof frying pan, just big enough for your breasts (harhar), onto a highish-medium heat (number 6 on my hob). Lay the duck skin side down in the pan.

fat filling up
fat filling up

I am an impatient and meddling cook. I cannot and will not leave things be, so this next bit is great fun for me. As the duck breasts heat up they begin to shed all their amusingly abundant fat. Get a heatproof jug or similar and place beside your hob. When the fat starts filling the frying pan – VERY VERY VERY VERY CAREFULLY – pick up the frying pan and pour the fat into the jug beside the hob.You may need to use something to stop the duck breasts from falling out too but BE CAREFUL. This fat is hot. Very hot.

I did this fat-draining three times in the 11mins it took for the skin to brown perfectly and the fat to render away. You may not need to do it so frequently or, indeed, you may need to do it more. I’ll leave it up to you but the end result should be beautifully browned, crispy skin where the fat has thinned to almost nothing and a scant dessert spoon of duck fat remains in the pan. Season the meaty side of the duck before turning it over.

I've not even enhanced these photos, it really does look that tasty
I’ve not even enhanced these photos, it really does look that tasty

Using a vegetable peeler peel an inch or two of the orange skin and pop it into the frying pan. Do not be tempted to swirl the pan because it makes you feel like a professional. Take my hand as a warning (unpleasant photo of my hand). Put the pan in the oven with the potatoes.

I like my duck just pink but not french so I leave it in the oven for 5mins but if you like it less pink add another minute or two.

duck done
duck done

When the appropriate time has elapsed remove ducky from the oven. Take the duck out of the pan, don’t throw away the goo in the pan, and place it on a clean (preferably warm) baking tray, cover closely with tin foil and leave in a warm place while you get cracking on the sauce.

mucho fat but you're not eating it so duck is healthy
mucho fat but you’re not eating it so duck is healthy

Remove the manky, shriveled orange peel from the saucepan and throw it away. Pour off the excess fat, into the jug from before, to leave about a dessert spoon of fat and juices in the frying pan. Place the frying pan on a low heat. Finely dice the shallot and add it to the pan. REMEMBER THAT THE HANDLE OF THE FRYING PAN IS SCALDY HOT. Using the peeler peel the rest of the orange into the pan too, making sure to only peel off the nice orange bit not the pithy underbit.

Let the shallot and orange gently fry away for a minute or two till the shallot is soft and shiny.

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add in the green beans or other vegetable of your liking.

The potatoes will probably be almost done now – approximately 20mins – you can take them out and leave them somewhere warm or let them get even crispier by leaving them in till you serve.

REMEMBER THE HANDLE OF THE FRYING PAN IS ROASTING HOT. Turn the heat up under the frying pan as high as it will go and add the wine. Let if bubble furiously for one minute and then reduce the heat back to low.

Squeeze in the juice of the orange into the pan and stir. There won’t be loads of sauce, ‘t’is more of a fruity morsel to augment the loveliness of the duck. The sauce should become slightly thicker after a minute or so but if it is too claggy just add some of the water from the vegetable pan.

Now. Everything should simultaneously be perfect and ready to serve; rested duck, crispy potatoes and just less than crunchy green beans. Marvelous.

not sliced, not sauced

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