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Honeyed Duck Breasts With Figs, Chestnuts, And Shallots

Roast Figs, Sugar Snow
by Diana Henry
We do so much long, slow cooking in fall and winter that it's good to have a few quick-cook dishes in your repertoire using seasonal ingredients. This dish is very last-minute, so make sure your accompaniments are simple or can be prepared in advance. I like it with sauted potatoes and a watercress salad.
Serves 4


    • 4 duck breast filets
    • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 4 tbsp hard cider
    • salt and pepper
    • 8 shallots
    • 5 tbsp honey
    • 4 fresh figs, halved
    • 12 cooked chestnuts
    • 1 tbsp olive oil


1. Make 3 slashes in the skin of each duck breast with a small, sharp knife. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, 1 tbsp of the balsamic vinegar, cider, salt, and pepper in a small dish and put the duck breasts into this, turning them over to make sure they get coated in the marinade. Cover loosely, put in the fridge, and leave to marinate for several hours, turning the breasts over every so often.

2. Put the peeled shallots in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Heat a griddle pan. Dry the skin of the duck breasts and put them onto the griddle pan, skin-side-down, over a medium-to-high heat. Cook the duck for about

4 minutes, until the skin is brown but not burned; it will cook in the fat that runs from underneath the skin. Paint the duck breasts all over with about 2 tbsp of the honey, season all over with salt and pepper, and put them, skin-side-up, in a small roasting tray. Spoon over the remaining marinade and cook in the oven for 7 minutes.

4. While the duck is cooking, drain the duck fat off the griddle. Put the figs, chestnuts, and shallots in a small bowl with the rest of the balsamic vinegar and honey, olive oil, and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Heat the griddle and put the figs on it. Cook quickly on both sides, just long enough to allow the figs to soften and char slightly. Add the chestnuts and shallots and cook for long enough for the figs to heat through and become caramelized in the honey.

5. Let the duck breasts rest for 3 minutes, covered, and kept warm, then cut them into neat slices across the breast and serve immediately with the figs, chestnuts, and shallots.


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