While the southern part of the UK appears to be bathed in perpetual sunshine, we up North (well in Wales anyway) experience weather systems in constant turmoil. One minute it’s hot and sunny, the next 60 mile an hour winds, followed closely by torrential sideways rain. The sort of rain that gets you really soaking and doesn’t care if you are carrying an umbrella.
Like the weather I feel just as confused. Sometimes it’s hard to choose what to eat on a grey day: Should it be something hearty and warming that will help me forget the changeable weather, or stubbornly persist with the summery salads despite their inadequacy in preventing my shivers?
Last night I came up with this recipe and I had to share it. It was an extremely good way of combining seasonal summery ingredients and making them feel somewhat more comforting.
Duck: 1 Gressingham duck (mine weighed about 1.25k) seasoned inside and out and then roasted in the oven for about 40 minutes. The flesh should still be a bit pink. For this dish I just used the breasts and saved the rest of the meat for something else. Once cooked remove the duck from the oven and allow to rest covered in foil. Just before serving carve off the breasts.
Sauce: finely chop four shallots and about 125g mushrooms. Cook until golden brown in a little oil then add 150ml red wine. Cook down briskly until it’s reduced by half. Then throw in four or five juniper berries, 450ml of chicken or duck stock, a dessertspoonful of unsalted butter and 25ml whipping cream. Allow this to bubble away until reduced a bit and thickened. I then added two teaspoons of my homemade red currant jelly. I didn’t want to add too much so it became too sweet so I erred on the side of caution, but you could add more if you did want a sweeter sauce. This amount was just right for me.
Potatoes and salad: Wash enough potatoes to feed however many there are of you. Cut lengthways and par boil for about two to three minutes. Drain and heat a pan with a little duck fat. Add the potatoes and saute until just turning golden brown; remove and drain on some kitchen paper. Keep warm.
Put a pan of water on to boil. Trim and peel the asparagus. When the water boils plunge in the asparagus for a couple of minutes only. They should stay green, but slightly tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Refresh in cold water. Put a char grill pan on the stove to heat, brushed with a little olive oil. When thoroughly hot add the asparagus and cook until the lines of the pan begin to mark the outside, and they are tender, but not blackened. Toss the potatoes, a hand full of shredded sorrel (central stem removed) and the asparagus together with a little seasoning and a dribble of olive oil then pile on to warmed plates. Top with the duck breast and a good ladle full of the sauce.
Enjoy with the rest of the wine from the bottle!