Cherry-glazed duck with fennel slaw

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 fennel bulbs
Half a medium
red cabbage
1 red onion
6tbspn mayonnaise
(or 2 egg yolks and
300ml olive oil if making your own)
1 lemon, juice and zest of
2tspn wholegrain mustard
100g drained
caper berries

100g black cherries
220ml red wine
30ml balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic
30ml maple syrup
220ml vegetable stock
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
4 duck breasts, skin on

Method

Fennel slaw Remove the hard outer leaves from the fennel bulbs, and then cut the fennel into shreds, as fine as you have the patience to make them. Do the same with the red cabbage and red onion, then place them together in a large bowl.

For best results, make your own mayonnaise using a stick blender. First, blend the egg yolks, then add the oil extremely slowly, initially starting with literally a single drop at a time, developing to a slow trickle, as you continue to hold the blender with the other hand (it’s easier than it sounds). Once the mixture is rich and glossy, add the lemon juice and zest, mustard and seasoning. Alternatively, use shop-bought mayonnaise and add to it those ingredients.

Mix the mayonnaise well with the shredded vegetables before folding the caper berries through it. The fennel slaw will taste best eaten on the day it’s made, but it can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days.

Glazed duck breasts Add the cherries, red wine, balsamic vinegar, peeled and crushed garlic cloves, maple syrup, vegetable stock and herbs to a small pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced by half, and the jus is rich and glossy.

Take the duck breasts and score the skin in a criss-cross pattern, making sure not to cut through too deeply into the breast meat itself, then, place them between clingfilm and hammer the flesh side until they become thinner and wider.

Take a frying pan and heat it until it’s smoking hot. Add the duck breasts skin side down (in batches if your pan isn’t large enough), and fry for 4-5 minutes to release the fat. Pour the fat away or remove it with kitchen paper (I tend to use kitchen paper throughout this stage to avoid fat spitting).

Once the fat has been released, turn the heat down and turn the duck breasts over. Cook for about eight minutes (depending on the thickness and how pink you like it) and then pour the glaze through a sieve and onto the duck breasts, picking out a few cherries from the glaze to add to the pan. Cook the duck breasts and glaze for a further few minutes, basting the breasts continuously with a spoon.

Serve the duck drizzled with the sauce, with fennel slaw and crusty artisan bread on the side.

More ways with cherries

Chocolate cherry fondants

To make four individual fondants, melt 100g dark chocolate with 80g butter. Mix 100g caster sugar with two eggs, then pour the melted chocolate and butter over the mixture. Mix well, then add 80g plain flour. Divide between ovenproof dishes and scatter cherries on top of each. Bake at a medium heat for about 20 minutes. A metal skewer shouldn’t come out clean, otherwise there won’t be a gooey centre. Serve hot with single cream.

Cherry frangipani tart

Line a 91⁄2in tart tin with shortcrust pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes on a medium heat. Cream 200g unsalted butter and 200g caster sugar until fluffy, and add three eggs, mixing well before each addition. Add two tablespoons of plain flour (to prevent the mixture from curdling), then 185g ground almonds. Remove the tart case from the oven and pour in the frangipani mixture. Scatter a handful of pitted cherries over the surface and bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
 

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