Sunday, 13 February 2011

Duck with pineapple, chilli and soy

I have lately started to do a thing that I call Russian Roulette shopping, where I go to Waitrose and just hurl whatever the fuck into my trolley. I don't want to make any boring sweeping generalisations about pregnancy and new motherhood, but it is just a fact that for the last three months I haven't been going to the shops with as gimlet an eye and as sharp a purpose as I might have done, say, six months ago.

So as I roll round the joint, cracking open huge yawns, I'm all, like celeriac? Sure, why not. Five aubergines? SURE. Some pigeon? WHAT THE HELL? Then I come home and look at it all and think "Oh God alive, what am I going to do with all this?

But something always emerges from the chaos in the end.

Rightly, this ought to be called Ready Steady Cook shopping. But Russian Roulette Shopping sounds better, even though the parallel doesn't work one bit. What do you want? I gave birth 10 days ago.

Last week, Russian Roulette shopping scored a real home run. In amongst the okra, dragon fruits and sugar snap peas, I had somehow purchased two duck breasts and a large pineapple. Do I remember buying them? No. Perhaps it ought to be called Amnesia shopping.

As luck would have it, my husband found a recipe for duck and pineapple in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Meat cookbook and set about it, like the trooper he temporarily is. He always turns to Hugh in moments of crisis because he believes the River Cottage Meat Book to be butch despite beating Hugh soundly at pool about 2 years ago. My husband is the most terrible hustler never trust him.

I was sceptical about the recipe. Duck and pineapple? Surely absolutely gross? No. Absolutely fantastic. Like something you would get in a very, very upmarket Chinese place. We ate it sort of laughing, going "I can't believe you made this," and "No I can't believe I made this, either. Cheers!"

We ate this with red rice (obviously) and some creamed cauliflower. But in truth, this would have been better with white rice and some broccoli sauteed with nam pla or oyster sauce.

So here we go:

Duck with pineapple, chilli and soy

This recipe can be found on p.366 of the River Cottage Meat Book

For 2
2 duck breasts
1/2 a pineapple
3 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tsp soft brown sugar or honey
3 garlic cloves, chopped
golfball sized bit of fresh ginger, finely sliced (we didn't have any and it was great anyway, but if you had some, that would be a bonus)
1 fresh red chilli, chopped. Seeds in or out. Up to you.
2 spring onions, chopped
few twists black pepper

Preheat your oven to 220C

1 Cut 2 slices from your pineapple half 2cm thick, cut into chunks and set aside. Chop up the rest and get the juice out, somehow. HFW says squeeze it with your fist. We have a juicer so FINALLY there a use for the enormous buggery thing, but if you are not stupid credulous twats like us and do not have a jucier, just do it the best way you can see how.

2 Make a marinade out of the pineapple juice (there ought to be about 3-4 tbsp) and the soy, sugar/honey, garlic, ginger, chilli and black pepper. Make some slashes in the duck breast and leave in the marinade. Ideally for a few hours, but 10 mins will make a difference.

3 Wipe the marinade off the breasts and sear them quickly in a hot pan in some veg oil. They need about 2-3 mins each side, just to brown the underside and crisp up the skin.

4 In a small roasting tin, make a bed out of the spring onions and lay the breasts on top and then pour over the marinade. The idea is that the breasts poach in the marinade so you need a roasting tin or oven proof dish that's quite small otherwise the marinade will just wash out everywhere and won't do an effective poaching job.

5 Roast these in your hot oven for 8-10 mins then remove from whatever they were cooking in and leave to rest somewhere warm. Do not chuck out the marinade.

6 In a small pan with some veg oil fry the pineapple chunks, turning occasionally so they get some colour. Sieve everything that's sitting in the duck-roasting-receptacle into your pineapple-chunk-frying pan and sizzle to reduce to a syrupy sauce. Poke the pineapple pieces around so they coat well.

7 Return the duck to the pan and turn a few times to coat. I always find it much more clement to slice things like duck breasts before eating, so you don't spend your evening sawing through a huge thunk of meat. Spoon over the sauce and pineapple chunks before serving.

Here is a picture of (part of) the baby because you know you love it you soppy fools.


  1. Great clenched fist attitude from the babe. Lovely even if only a small portion of her.

  2. love a bit of Russian Roulette shopping and you did well to come out with such an amazing looking dish... I guess making a baby can be a bit like this too... but yours seems to have come out looking like a beauty so i guess hurling Giles into your shopping basket was not such a bad thing!...

    ... i've started a RR on my blog too... mine is called Random Recipes... i've set a challenge for followers to pick a recipe book at random from their shelves and then turn to a random page and cook exactly what they find.. no cheating... maybe you could join in too if you're feeling in an RR kinda's the link anyway with the 'rules'

  3. Fantastic. Russian Roulette shopping drives my girlfriend absolutely mad, obviously an important reason to continuing doing it. Not only that but it means you are forced to try something new. Which can only be a step up from my signature dish of pasta + condiments

  4. What's creamed cauliflower? How do you make it?

    Loving the baby pic.

  5. Hi Amelia,

    very simple - for 2, boil 1 chopped cauli until soft - 8 mins? bung in a food processor with 40g butter, 6 twists of black pepper and a large pinch of salt. add a long sloop of cream if you like. whizz until smooth. very good with most things, esp game xx

  6. Shopping in Holland I am forced to play roulette most days - only I don't come home with duck breast. More like some fatty unidentifiable piece of crap which I have to fashion into a meal. But if I search for days and spend lots of money I can find food which I'm prepared to eat. Your recipes just make me want to weep for Waitrose.

    More baby pics please.

  7. I'm still suffering from RRS 7 months after giving birth. If I don't go food shopping without a list, I will wander round completely aimlessly, then grab some meat and other bits, then get home having spent a fortune & with NO meals for the week.

    I look around at the shopping detritus I have just purchased and wonder where my memory function & brain disappeared to...

    I would like to say the RRS is getting better, but it's not. I hope your's does, or maybe not, if you manage to conjure up such lovely meals!!

  8. I am still suffering with RRS, ahem, 13 years down the line! In my defense, I do have 3 children and now that I have started actually trying to make a menu plan (yawn) for the week, its getting better. There is nothing worse than going to the shops, spending £100 and then getting home and thinking WTF am I going to cook with this lot?! Congratulations on Kitty, she is beautiful.

  9. All men suffer from RRS - makes life more exciting for us and drives our partners mad.

    Missing the daily recipe fix but loving the baby pics - a real beauty.

  10. Gah, and I live with a vegetarian so I can only slaver at this recipe and dream of the meaty goodness!

    The pics of lovely Kitty are making me nostalgic for when my baby was teeny. Yes it's only 10 months ago but still...

    Do the soft bits on her head make you feel weird?

  11. Waitrose is brilliant for random shopping, I always get suckered in for the lovely bits and pieces in the asian food shelves. I came home with some togarashi seasoning 3 days ago and its bloody lovely sprinkled over noodle soup (not that your a soup fan!) I'm gonna try giving the box a generous shake over some chicken and see what happens :)
    Love the pic of Kitty's little fist :)

  12. I dreamt I was part of Bianca's werid family in Eastenders on Tuesday, and I had not one, but two babies. One was 9 mths older than the other. And I had to take it in turns to breast feed them, but I kept leaving them in sheds, and forgetting they were feeding. I'd feed one, then find the other, feed it whilst losing the first.

    The only think I can attribute this to is the baby photo from the other day, and my brain trying to shuffle everything into order whilst I sleep.

    I probably won't make the duck. I had a go at your chicken pie on Monday, but the final result was such a bastardised version, I'm too ashamed to go into it.

  13. Although this has nothing to do with the post, may I just say I LOVE Helena's comment - possibly one of the most random things I have read in quite a while!

  14. The other technique is to swipe a shopping list from one of the trolleys in the car park and just shop from that. Though probably not one for the adrenaline junkie. You could steal someone's shopping trolley when they're not looking (though I seem to remember you've done that before).

    Oh, and what the fuck do you do with dragon fruit?

  15. omg brilliant idea jim!! let's all do it.

    although we shop at the same waitrose so you will end up with my shopping list which has nappies and loads of chocolate on it.

    you don't buy dragon fruit at all. it is shit and boring

  16. Another informative blog… Thank you for sharing it… Best of luck for further endeavor too.

  17. I attempted this tonight after eyeing it for a while. Turned out quite well except for a mild panic and frantic googling on whether pink duck is still ok to eat. The boyfriend decided it would be ok if it was hot so we ate it. Tasted pretty good actually! Out of interest was yours quite pink (if you can remember!)?

  18. Oh yes, absolutely, if it's nice and hot it's quite safe