Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pan fried duck breast, truffle pomme puree, spinach and a port reduction

This classic favour combination works really well: gamey duck, earthy truffle, creamy potatoes, irony spinach and a sweet, mellow port reduction binding them together. It is great for a romantic night in or a small dinner party (more than 6 duck breasts is a bit much to pan fry to perfection at one time). 

With this dish they key thing is to get really, really good quality duck, not your standard supermarket fillet, since they need to be tender and are the star of the show. In this kind of dish there is no dressing up ingredients with a mask of clever techniques and flavours, something I also love doing, but here each ingredient speaks for itself. 

Ingredients (serves 2)
Duck and Sauce
2 high quality duck breasts (left uncovered over night in the fridge to dry out)
½ glass of red wine
½ glass of port
1 tablespoon of marmalade

Truffle pomme puree
350g Yukon Gold (or other mashing potatoes) quatered
70g butter
I medium sized glass of milk
2 drops of truffle oil – the kind containing real truffle, not just flavouring

1 bag of baby spinach
20g butter
a sprinkling of nutmeg

10/11 mins duck…

Begin with the pomme puree, a less arduous version of the triple sieved one I did with duck legs here.  Bring a pan of water to the boil. Place the potatoes in the boiling water. After 10 minutes check the potatoes - they should be soft enough that you can poke a knife through them with no resistance. They will probably need 5-10 minutes more. 

Once soft enough, strain them and leave them to cool a bit. When cool enough, peel them with your hands by rubbing the skin off. If this is too difficult you can use a knife to skin them instead.

Return them to the dry pan and mash them up. Place over a very very low heat to warm up whilst stirring in the butter bit by bit. It should begin to form a doughy puree.

The puree will be very thick. Slowly stir in as much milk as it takes to bring it to the consistency that you like. Add a drop or 2 of truffle oil (carefully because it is pretty potent stuff!). Season to taste with salt and pepper and pass through a sieve into a heat proof bowl. Leave the pomme puree over a bain-marie to keep warm while you move onto the duck.

The duck: take it out of the fridge, pat it dry with kitchen roll, and salt the skin side. Place the fillets skin side down in a cold frying pan, then begin to heat in on the hob with a medium flame. 

After a couple of minutes, pour off the fat that has come off the duck into a jam jar to throw away later or use for roast potatoes. 

Now, take a heavy and heat proof object to compress the duck, being careful not to burn yourself with any of the spitting fat. Keep pressing down on the meat and pouring off the fat when it accumulates - this ensures the skin is beautifully bronzed and crispy. 

Continue doing this for 7 minutes, checking as you go along that the skin isn't browning too fast or burning (this cooking time is only a guideline and varies based on the pan type and flame intensity, so use your own judgement.) Once the skin is perfect, flip the breast over and cook for one more minute. You want the middle to be nice and pink. 

Leave on a board /plate to rest for 5-10 minutes. 

Now onto the reduction, pour the wine and port into your hot duck pan and stir in the marmalade  Get to the boil and reduce until shiny and around the right volume for 2 plates - maybe 1 1/2 big tablespoon of sauce each. 

Finally, fry the spinach in butter for one minute, cover, turn the heat off and leave for a minute. 

Now everything is ready to be assembled.