seared duck breasts with ruby port sauce and celeriac purée

serves 6. hands-on time 1 hour, simmering time 1 hour, plus resting

Cavolo nero is a variety of cabbage with long, dark, loose and bobbly leaves. It originated in Tuscany and is now being grown in Lincolnshire. It translates as 'black cabbage'.

make ahead
Make the celeriac puree in advance and either keep covered in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for 1 month. The gravy will keep in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 1 month. Prep and fry the duck breasts, then keep covered in the fridge overnight. Bring to room temperature before finishing them in the oven.

for the duck
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
6 free-range duck breasts
1 tbsp salt
Steamed cavolo nero or savoy cabbage to serve

for the celeriac puree
1kg celeriac (about 2 medium)
50m1 whole milk
50m1 double cream
40g butter

for the sauce
180m1 ruby port
500m1 fresh chicken stock
3 tbsp redcurrant jetty
Finely grated zest 1/2 orange

1. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, then toast the fennel seeds and peppercorns for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Pound in a pestle and mortar to a coarse powder.

2. Score the skin of the duck breasts using a sharp knife: make diagonal cuts through the skin and fat but not into the flesh - the closer together you score, the more crisp the duck skin will get. Do this straight from the fridge (duck fat softens as it warms).

3. Mix the salt with the fennel and pepper, then rub into the scored skin. Chill for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, peel and chop the celeriac into small, even chunks and put in a large saucepan. Pour over water to cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

5. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and, when hot, add the duck, skin-side down. Fry for 5 minutes or until the skin has browned and much of the fat has been rendered (melted). Transfer to a baking tray, skin-side up, until ready to use (see Make Ahead).

6. For the sauce, pour away most of the fat from the frying pan (keep any crispy bits). Add the port and stir well, scraping the bottom. Bubble for 3-4 minutes to reduce, then stir in the stock and redcurrant jelly. Simmer and reduce for 25-30 minutes until it's the consistency of single cream.

7. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Roast the duck breasts for 6 minutes for rare, 9 minutes for medium or 12 for well done, then rest for 15 minutes.

8. White the duck is in the oven, whizz the celeriac in a food processor or blender until smooth (or mash by hand). Spoon back into a pan with the milk, cream, butter and salt and ~;>
pepper, then stir over a gentle heat to warm through.

9. Pour any juices from the rested duck into the sauce and stir in the orange zest. Bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer.

10. Slice the duck breasts crossways, then serve with the celeriac puree and sauce, with steamed cavolo nero (see Know-how) or savoy cabbage.

per serving 534kcals, 27.6g fat (10.6g saturated), 6.7g protein, 12.7g carbs (11.6g sugars), 2.2g salt, 8.2g fibre

wine editor's choice
A rounded, ripe red wine from the same region as port: Portugal's Douro Valley.


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