honeyed duck breasts with potato rösti, creamed cabbage and bacon

serves 4

honey and clove sauce
4 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp light Muscovado sugar
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp whole cloves
225ml beef stock
salt and pepper

2 large floury potatoes, peeled
sea salt and pepper
2–3 tbsp clarified butter or duck fat
2–3 tbsp sunflower oil

cabbage and bacon
1 small Savoy cabbage, outer leaves removed
25g butter
1 onion, finely sliced
4 slices of streaky bacon, cut into strips, or packet of pancetta
2 tbsp water
4–6 tbsp double cream
salt and pepper

duck breasts
4 x 275g duck breasts
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
pinch of salt
1 tbsp clear honey

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. To make the sauce, place the honey in a small pan with the soy, vinegar, sugar, ketchup, cloves and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat
and fast simmer for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste and pass through a sieve into a clean pan discarding the cloves. Set aside until needed.

For the rösti, grate the potatoes coarsely into the centre of a clean tea towel. Fold the towel around the potato to form a ball and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Open the
cloth and season with black pepper then divide into four equal portions.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of butter or duck fat and sunflower oil. Place a metal ring inside the frying pan and carefully add the grated potato. Using the back of a spoon gently push down to make a compact cake. Lift up the ring and repeat until you have four röstis.

Fry until golden brown, making sure that the fat bubbles up through the centre to cook the inside. Do not use too high a heat or the outside will burn before the centre is cooked. When golden, turn over and add the remaining oil, if required. Once golden brown, season with salt, then lift out of the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Place on a baking tray (they will keep for 4–5 hours) and reheat in a hot oven for 5 minutes when needed.

Cut the Savoy cabbage into quarters and remove the stalk. Finely slice the leaves, wash them and set aside. Melt the butter in the frying pan, add the onions and cook on medium heat for
4–5 minutes until softened.

Fry the bacon in a separate pan on a high heat until crisp and drain on kitchen paper. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, and keep warm until ready to serve. Set aside until ready
to serve, preferably when the duck is in the oven.

Score the fat on the duck in a criss-cross pattern and rub salt and pepper into the duck fat. Place duck breasts in a dry large ovenproof frying pan, skin-side down, allow the pan to heat up for three minutes until the fat starts to sizzle, giving the duck a crispy skin.

Turn the duck breasts over and cook for another minute, then pour away any excess fat. Pop them into the oven to cook for about 8–10 minutes for a pink finish. (You can leave them in the
oven for a little longer if you prefer them well done). For the last few minutes of the cooking time brush the skin of the duck breasts with the honey. Leave to rest in a warm place for five minutes, without covering.

Add the cabbage and water to the onions and stir-fry over high heat for a few minutes until just tender. Add the crispy bacon and cream, stir to combine and simmer gently until the cream has slightly thickened. Reheat the rösti in the oven for 5 minutes and reheat the honey and clove sauce, stirring occasionally. Carve the duck breasts into thin slices and arrange on warmed plates with the rösti and Savoy cabbage, then drizzle around the honey and clove sauce to serve.

* Original recipe taken from Ainsley's honey recipes in the "Great British Food Revival" published by BBC Books. Available in all good book shops. Photography (c) Andrew Hayes-Watkins