I have started serving food on the weekend for a meal time I like to call ‘Linner’. ‘Linner’ is when I serve the meal we were planning to have for dinner at lunch time so that it can be photographed in natural light. Scotty has started to get used to my new weekend meal time and thankfully understands the photos are much better when shot in natural light rather than with my speedflash.
While I can still get great shots with my speed flash (see Rainbow cake post) it takes a lot longer to set up a shot when needing to use the wireless triggers and bounce the flash off the right surface in the right position to get the best shot. I am WAY too impatient and hungry to shoot with the speedflash more than is absolutely necessary.
Now for the duck!
Duck is one of my most favourite things to find on a restaurant menu. My eyes light up when I see it and not a second thought crosses my mind until I have it ordered, in front of me, and in my belly as soon as possible.
Despite my love of this gamey treasure, I have not yet tried my hand at cooking duck. I was thinking today why that might be. The only excuse that I could come up with was that I have eaten so much spectacular duck in my time at so many great restaurants, that I was worried about ‘stuffing it up’ (as they say in Australia).
I have now been writing and shooting this blog for just over a year and suddenly I feel ready to give duck a crack! I say ‘suddenly’ as it wasn’t till I saw two great duck breasts yesterday that I knew it – I bought them without even a second thought.
So what to cook with the duck breasts?
I did a quick search for ideas and settled on a great recipe for honey and soy glazed duck breast served with green beans and a toasted hazelnut dressing. It’s a Gordon Ramsay recipe which had great duck cooking tips and was also accompanied by this video of Gordon walking through the dish – very helpful for a first time duck cooker.
What a fantastic recipe! The whole dish came together easily and had the perfect mixture of salty and sweet with soft and crunchy. The duck cooking times are spot on with the result being incredibly moist and still pink duck meat – perfect. In short, this is absolutely my next impressive dinner party dish.
Honey Soy Glazed Duck Breast with Green Beans and Toasted Hazelnuts
4 x 175g duck breasts, with skin on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chinese five spice powder
1-2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
200g green beans
85g toasted hazelnuts
100ml hazelnut oil
200ml olive oil
100ml sherry vinegar
Score the skin of the duck breasts in a cris cross pattern with a very sharp knife. Season the duck breast generously with salt and the five spice and rub into the skin thoroughly.
Place the duck breasts, skin-side down, on a cold dry fry pan and slowly heat the pan over very low heat to render down most of the fat off the duck breask. This may take 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fat.
Once the fat has rendered, turn up the heat and fry until the skin is crisp. Turn the duck breasts over and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Just before the duck is ready, drizzle the honey and soy sauce over. Toss and turn the duck in the honey and soy and cook until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze. Transfer the duck to a warm plate and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes.
While the duck is resting, to a pan of salted boiling water add the beans and cook for no more than one minute. Meanwhile, crush the hazelnuts lightly with a pestle and mortar. Drain the beans thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper. Whisk the oils and sherry vinegar together with some seasoning. Toss the beans in the vinaigrette to taste.
To serve, place the bean salad off centre on warm plates. Slice the duck lengthways and place beside. Drizzle any remaining pan juices over and finish with a small drizzle of the vinaigrette.