This time last week we were having some pretty hot weather, so as I was seeing the first waves of pumpkin and general autumnal recipes flood across my screen, I’m afraid I couldn’t really relate as it was the last thing I was thinking. In fairness, food in general wasn’t necessarily that high up there, I was more thinking it was about time this baby made an appearance, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears so far. Food-wise, though, it was all about salads and grilling.
These last couple days, in contrast, have been a little bit cooler with some rain and so some more comforting, cooler-weather foods have made it to our table, including an old favorite moussaka, and a few new dishes like this tasty duck breast with blackberry sauce.
In my baby-waiting (and willing on, unsuccessfully) I have been slightly working one day at a time meals-wise, unsurprisingly, and while it has been nice to do some slightly more full-on meals like the moussaka while I can, there are days when I am certainly happier to make things a bit easier on myself, and this dish is perfect for that.
Without compromising on taste, this is really easy to put together, and you can pair it with a range of sides. It’s quite nice to have something that can soak up some sauce, such as mash or some other form of potato or sweet potato, but a salad or maybe greens would also be good. In general, you don’t want anything with too dominant a flavor so you can enjoy the duck and the sauce to their fullest. We had it with some potato pancakes (recipe coming soon).
Duck breast is easy and quick to cook, and is best done very simply with a little salt on either side. Exactly how you cook it is a little up to you and what you have available – you can pan fry it, or start in the pan and finish in the oven, or else cook on the grill/under broiler. In all cases, you want to start by cooking the skin side then cook the flesh side giving the skin side a bit longer. You finish by resting it for a few minutes as you would a steak to make sure as many of the juices are held inside before you slice it up.
You can season the duck more before you cook it, but I don’t really think it needs it as duck has a great taste on its own and the blackberry sauce that goes alongside gives a fantastic complimentary flavor.
The blackberry sauce is also very easy to make, simply heating the blackberries with a couple other ingredients to reduce down a little, and it makes for a luscious accompaniment to the meat. I debated about straining the sauce but I think you loose too much of the blackberry goodness and my concern about it tasting ‘seedy’ wasn’t anything to worry about.
This is an easy dish to put together but the end result both looks and tastes great – my toddler was a big fan as well as us, but I’m sure even more discerning guests would be fairly impressed. The sauce has a lovely depth of flavor, a slightly spiced blend of sweet and savory, and goes really well with the duck. It’s got that warmth which can be just the thing as the weather is getting that bit colder. Simply delicious.
Duck breast with blackberry sauce
- 4 duck breasts or 3 if large, depending on size
- a little salt
- 6 oz blackberries 170g - 1 box
- 1/2 cup chicken stock 120ml
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp brandy
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 cloves
- Pat the duck breasts dry and lightly score the skin to break the skin but not cut through to the flesh below. Sprinkle both sides with a little salt.
- If cooking in a pan, warm a large, heavy-based skillet and add the duck breasts skin-side down and cook for around 7-10min until you can see the sides cooking and the skin has crisped up. Turn over and cook around another around 5-8min, depending on thickness and how rare you want it. You can reduce this to just a couple minutes and finish in the oven (around 400F/180C) for 7-15min depending on whether you prefer medium-rare to well done. Alternatively, you can cook on the grill/under broiler following same principle of cooking skin side first etc.
- As you start cooking the duck, begin heating the sauce by putting the blackberries, stock, vinegar, brandy, sugar and cloves in a small pan and bringing to a simmer. Continue to simmer as you cook the duck, breaking up the blackberries, and reduce the liquid by around half.
- Once the duck has cooked, set it aside to rest - you can tent it with foil - for a few minutes before slicing and serving with the sauce poured over or on the side (remove the cloves before serving).
Try these other meaty mains with a fruity edge: