Mmmm...duuuuuck... Thus spoke my boyfriend at the idea of buying some breasts of this favourite of ours to cook at home. Little did we know that unexpected commitments would come up, disasters would strike (like the day I came back home from work, licking my lips with the idea of duck on my mind, only to find that there was no electricity in the whole neighbourhood. Needless to say, takeaway pizza just wasn't the same and the most infuriating thing was that the electricity DID come back two hours later, the moment I was blindly and fiddlingly trying to open the pizza box), the days would pass and the duck would be still lying in the fridge.
Nevertheless, after an almost week-long odyssey we finally both managed to be at home, and feeling experimental, I decided to try a different recipe this time. I've made duck many times before, always using sweet sauces as I love it this way (my all time favourite used to be this tamarind duck I could get in a lovely Thai restaurant in Norwich called The Sugar Hut... ah, I miss that so!) and I stuck to the sweet principle this time as well, but with some extra spice. My boyfriend was extra helpful and experimental alongside me this time, when he dug out half a monster sweet potato that we had left over in the fridge (from making a batch of these coffee cupcakes for a charity coffee morning at work, in case you're wondering!) and suggested that we make roast sweet potatoes to go with the duck. Yes, sweet potatoes with sweet duck.
However, it worked beautifully, and I was really impressed, so much that this is now definitely my favourite recipe for duck, and I'm sure I'll repeat it again and again. The sweet potatoes were not too sweet (as I thought they would end up being) and although I could have made them into a purée, I like the bite and the chargriled edges (plus saves me some time puréeing and washing the extra utensils!).
Source: Severely adapted from John Burton Race
- 2 duck breasts
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 4 tbsp runny honey
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Peel the sweet potato, chop it into cubes and toss with the olive oil, maple syrup, chilli powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a tray. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and bake for 35-40 minutes until soft and caramelised, frequently mixing the potatoes around so they don't stick.
Crush the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar (or put in a strong plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin or tin can). Mix in the ginger, Chinese five spice and some freshly ground black pepper.
Clean the duck breasts and score the skin in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife. Season with a little salt. Place the duck skin side down in a very hot pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the fat out of the pan and turn the duck over, cooking it until it is nicely browned.
Reduce the heat and sprinkle the spice mix over the skin of the duck breasts. Drizzle the honey over them and continue cooking, basting them constantly with the melting honey until nicely glazed. Turn the breasts over and when they're ready remove them from the pan and keep warm.
Serve the sweet potatoes topped with the sliced duck and drizzle with the rest of the spiced honey.