DUCK WITH CRANBERRY AND CLEMENTINE COMPOTE
Cook: In a Class of Your Own
by Richard Bertinet
The cranberry and Clementine compote is a handy recipe just on its own, since you can serve it with any kind of meat, hot or cold; it is also beautiful with Stilton cheese at Christmas. If you make a larger quantity it will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Don't worry about the thick layer of fat beneath the skin of the duck breasts; it doesn't mean they will be fatty to eat. I agree, chewy duck fat is not very appetizing, but the key is to sear the breasts, skin-side down, in a dry pan over high heat, so that the excess fat comes out and the skin really crisps up. Then you can put the breasts into a hot oven to finish cooking. I like to serve duck breasts with spinach—one of the easiest of all vegetables to prepare because you just have to let it wilt in the pan.
INGREDIENTS (For 4)
• 1¾ lb spinach leaves
• 4 duck breasts, about 5-7oz each
• sea salt and freshly ground
• black pepper
• large spoon of butter
• 1/2 nutmeg, to taste
FOR THE COMPOTE
• 4 satsumas or Clementines
• 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau
• 7oz cranberries, fresh or frozen
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Preheat the oven to 375-400°F.
• Peel the satsumas or Clementines and separate them into segments.
• Wash the spinach and leave to drain in a colander.
• Score the duck skin in crisscrosses, about 1 inch deep, with a sharp knife—this will help the heat penetrate the meat more quickly and it will encourage the fat to melt so that it runs off and the skin gets really crisp.
1. For the compote, put all the ingredients into a pan over low heat and cook gently for about 20 minutes, until the cranberries start to pop and the compote becomes thick and jammy.
2. Get a large, dry frying pan (that will transfer to the oven) really hot—no oil.
Season the breasts on both sides and put them into the pan, skin-side down. The skin will shrink back very quickly and the fat will run out into the pan. Be careful because it might spit. Cook for at least 3 minutes over medium heat until the skin is brown and crisp, and then turn the breasts over. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, drain off the excess carefully (keep it tor roasting potatoes). Put the pan into the hot oven for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of the duck breasts, or until the meat is cooked but still slightly pink and moist. Take the duck breasts out of the oven and put them on a rack to drain, skin-side up (over the pan in which you have cooked them). Leave to rest by the side of the stove for 5-10 minutes, placing a little piece of foil loosely over the top to retain the heat.
3. While the meat is resting, put the butter into a large pan with the washed spinach and grate the nutmeg over the top. Put the lid on and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Take off the lid, stir the wilted spinach well, then drain it through a colander, and squeeze gently to get rid of any bitter juices.
4. Slice the duck breasts thinly and lay them on top of the spinach on your plates, with some warm compote on the side.