The contented cook: fuss-free food throughout the year, 224pp.
by Xanthe Clay
Kyle Books, London, 2012
Cooking on page 32
The recipe on page 32 was just too tempting, so I checked this out of the library and then waited for duck breasts to go on sale.
The book itself has a personal feel. Xanthe Clay promotes an easy life in the kitchen. She reminds readers that cooking is not a competition and says ‘If you are making fresh food at home, you have already won.’
As the title suggests, the recipes are seasonal and make use of fresh produce. I hadn’t heard of Clay before, but she runs the kitchen in the fashionable Raincheck Bar in Bath in England. She is the main food columnist for The Daily Telegraph and contributes to Olive and Good Food magazines.
So let’s check out the duck recipe.
Five-spice duck breasts
4 duck breasts
3 tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
Mix the honey, soy and five spice and smear half of it generously over the duck skin. Leave for 30 minutes at room temperature and then repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Preheat the oven to 230°C/gas mark 8. Put the duck breasts skin side up on a rack over a roasting tin and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice and arrange on warm plates. Serve with beetroot or sweet potato mash and watercress, or spring greens stir-fried with soy and ginger.
Serves 4 to 6.
How it played out
Oh wow, did I hit it lucky at the farmer’s market. The Fyshwick Markets run Thursday to Sunday and if I go late Sunday afternoon, I can get great bargains.
The duck breasts, normally $40–$45 a kilo, were going for less than $35, so I snapped up four to make this recipe as written. I was very lucky with the honey too. I gave some sourdough starter to a woman I met at a secondhand bookstore, and she gave me a jar of local honey in return. Win–win!
Given that the oven was already running at 230°C, I made wedges instead of beetroot or sweet potato mash. Also served with sautéed mushrooms and a green salad.
And I poured off the duck fat to use the next time I make Escalavida (Spanish-roasted vegetables).
Excellent way to prepare duck breasts and the whole meal couldn’t have been simpler to make. I’m not a huge fan of Chinese five spice, but could find no fault with its use in this recipe—just the right amount. Now to wait for duck breasts to be on sale again.
And if you love having duck on the menu, check out my travel blog for the time I bought 16 duck breasts for about $8.