Monday, 22 March 2010

Duck and beetroot

Sometimes I surprise myself with the recipes I decide look nice. For example, this roast duck and beetroot thingy, which I picked out of Waitrose Food Illustrated the other day and tried out on Saturday, looks totally weird (doesn't help that I've put it on a black dish... should have used a white one to show up the colour). But something about it appealead to me. Often I think I'm lacking a vitamin supplied by an ingredient in the recipe. For a whole year, I went crazy for any recipe with eggs in it and I'm convinced it was because I was starved of B12.

Anyway, this is a Gordon Ramsay recipe, although these days I think when things are said to be by Gordon Ramsay they've actually been rustled up by an ambitious sous-chef and given the okay by GR via an iPhone video link.

But whoever made it up, this is jolly easy but looks pretty amazing. The sauce with the beetroot is quite sweet. Either just go with it, or reduce the sugar by a third.

For 4

800g beetroot, trimmed and peeled
100g butter
150g soft brown sugar
150ml sherry vinegar
75g sultanas (I didn't have any, so didn't use them)
4 duck breasts with skins on. All duck recipes make a huge song and dance about Gressingham duck, but Waitrose only have them smothered in all kinds of digusting sauces so I just used normal free range duck.

1 Cut the beetroot into thin slices. Melt the butter with the sugar and vinegar in a pan. When the sugar has dissolved, add the beetroot and toss to coat. Season then cover with crumpled piece of greaseproof paper. Simmer gently for 45 minutes.

2 Stir in the sultanas if using and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the beetroot is just tender (which, with beetroot, means a bit of bite still left). If you want the sauce really syrupy, remove the beetroot and boil the liquid until it's like chocolate sauce.

3 Score the skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern and season. Place skin-side down in a dry frying pan and cook gently for 8 minutes. Don't be tempted to use a non-stick frying pan because the skins won't go as crispy. Turn up the heat after the initial 8 minutes to give the skin a chance to really crisp up.

The duck breasts will stick like glue to the bottom of the pan. This is annoying, but all it means is that you have to take a slim fish slice and really get under the breasts to separate them from the bottom of the pan. If you're genuinely spooked by stuff like this you could, before you put the breasts into the pan, brush the skins with the MEREST HINT of oil. And really, I mean a tiny cat's lick.

After you flip the breasts, the recipe says to cook for another 3 minutes. This 8 min + 3 min cooking time doesn't give especially rare meat. If you want it rarer, I'd say cook for 6 + 2 mins. I guess commercial recipes don't want to recommend rare cooking times because they don't want to be accused of poisoning people.

4 Spoon the beetroot and cooking juices into the centre of a plate or onto a large serving dish. Slice the breasts up quite thick and arrange them over the top.

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