Roasted duck breast with honey-glazed baby onions and salsify, minted peas and Madeira sauce

First food post in a month… yay and sorry peeps for the delay!  As you know from my last post there has been some other stuff going on and I also forgot to mention one other major hindrance to my cooking abilities. That is that I have spent two months recovering from this injury. I did it playing netball and spent two weeks on crutches and a further 6 weeks of physio and I am pleased to report that I will be back on the netball court on Monday night – yippee!

So everything is back to normal and here is my most recent effort at emulating Mr Ramsay.

Not wanting to lull myself into a false sense of security or anything, but I SMASHED this dish, it was soooo easy. It probably helps that I have done a few of the elements before *BUT* it was my first time cooking duck (making duck pancakes from a Marks and Spencer kit doesn’t count), so I’m going to give myself, the Virgin Duck Cooker, a high five and pat on back.

The ingredient shop was relatively easy, I knew immediately salsify would be hard to find so after a quick consultation with the Cook’s Thesaurus, I saw that salsify could be substituted for parsnip and parsnip could be substituted with celeriac, so celeriac it was going to be as I needed it for the accompanying celeriac pureé.

So, celeriac pureé and glazed celeriac…. err I know what you are thinking…I could have just gotten parsnip. Not my most well thought out combination, early onset of senility anyone?

Everything else was simple and straightforward and I was thankful that I already had the expeno bottle of Madeira in my cupboard from cooking this other dish with Madeira Sauce.

This recipe is a great one to make for a dinner party, because the vegetables, sauce and pureé can mostly be done before hand, heating everything up at the last minute. So I started with the sauce as that is the most involved part of this easy peasy recipe (boastful much?).

The method for this Madeira sauce is slightly different to the one used for the pork belly – if you can remember, that one was made from the stock the pork was braised in. This is Gordon’s straight up Madeira sauce, that you can make anytime and whack on anything (well almost anything). It’s in the basics section of the book on page 248 and I REALLY REALLY recommend you try it sometime because it is so good you almost want to stick your head in the saucepan and lick it out.

Madeira Sauce 101

– heat olive oil in wide saucepan and add shallots, herbs and garlic, sweat until softened
– add the meat trimmings (pork, beef or poultry) and fry until browned
– deglaze pan with Madeira AND port, reduce by two thirds
– add chicken and veal stocks, bring to boil and reduce by ANOTHER two thirds (concentrated goodness)
– pass through sieve and season
– that’s it. Easy hey?

And soz, I was so bad at multitasking I didn’t take one photo of that process.

The sauce done, I set it aside and got to work on the vegies. Here’s what I need for the glazed salsify parsnip celeriac and baby onions.

First up, I took the baby onions (well they were really pickling onions but what defines a baby onion anyway?), immersed them in boiling water so as to easily remove the skins. Then simmered until tender, about 15 minutes.

Next up, parsnip celeriac. I followed the method they had for the salisfy, including, “[after cutting] immediately immerse in a pan of cold water with a generous squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discolouration”. It seemed to work. Cold water was brought to a boil then removed from heat, letting the parsnip cool in the pan.

For some reason I felt the need to put in a plastic bowl of cold water and then a pan of cold water. Why? because I love doing dishes.

Boring photo is boring.

The onions and celeriac were set aside ready for glazing later.

The crushed peas were exactly the same as the side that went with the Pork Belly and really are such a simple, tasty way to serve peas. I took some photos this time… and I will let you in on a little secret…

I LOVE SHELLING PEAS!  Haha, it makes me feel like I’m in the Famous Five or something. You know that wholesome, old fashioned feeling…


Celeriac purée, just three ingredients. So simple, I’ll let the pictures do the talking –

That's some white pepper in there with the melted butter

Stir over high heat, until starts to soften, add cream, cover pan

Cook until celeriac is very soft (15 - 20 min)

Transfer to food processor

Blend to a fine purée

So to summarize;  Peas are ready. Madeira sauce is ready. Celeriac purée is ready.

Time to pop my cherry.

I preheated the oven to 220C. Then prepped my duck breasts. Weirdly one was much pinker than the other. The recipe called for 4 x duck breast halves (so half per person) but I had enough for two so I cooked them whole.

Trimmed, scored and seasoned.

The duck breasts are seared in the pan and then cooked in the oven. So into a super hot skillet went both breasts, skin side down.


Allow 3 – 4 minutes for the skin to brown, then quickly turn and sear on the other side. Transfer the pan to the oven.

With the duck breast in the oven it was GO GO GO!

I drained the celeriac and patted it dry.

I heated the olive oil in a sauté pan and then added the vegetables. When they started to colour,  in with the butter, honey and a squeeze of lemon juice (plus seasoning). These were tossed for a few minutes until nicely caremelised and left in the warm pan ready for service (I’m so cheffy).

In a pot on the stove top I wilted some spinach, at the same time in  the microwave I reheated the purée and the crushed peas, whilst taking the duck breast out of the oven to rest.  MULTI TASKING GO GO GO!!! The duck had been in the oven for about 6 minutes and probably just a touch too long. Lovely crispy skin though.

To plate up, place a metal cutter in the centre of the plate and spoon in the crushed peas and then top with a layer of the spinach. Remove the cutter then arrange sliced duck breasts on top. Alternate the purée, and glazed vegetables around the outside, then spoon on the Madeira Sauce.

As a whole, the dish was well balanced and perfect with a glass of red on a wintery night. The nutty sweetness of the celeriac, the rich velvety Madeira sauce and the fresh minted peas complimented the tender fattiness of the duck and the crispy skin. You can see in the second photo the duck looks a little bit over done. It was still pink, but could have been a bit juicier – OM NOM NOM. But hey….

No one was complaining –

My nemesis Dessert, is supposed to be up next. I’m not sure which one. So many of them need an ice cream maker, which I haven’t bought yet and I’m not even sure it will fit in my freezer (the bowl bit).

I’m tempted to get a new fridge/freezer all together, a side by side one. The one we have now has the freezer up top and there just isn’t enough room for saving meat scraps, bones and shellfish shells, all of which I need to make stocks for upcoming dishes.

My birthday is coming up in September, is it super lame to ask for a new fridge?