Just in the nick of time, we snaffled the last of the season’s blackberries from the bushes in our local woods at the weekend. They were nicely plump but quite sour, so instead of covering them with sugar to make another dessert or cake, I whizzed them in a blender and made them into a delicious tart and fruity sauce for these duck breasts we had for Sunday dinner.
The sauce went beautifully with the slight bitterness of stir-fried chicory leaves and creamy Dauphinoise potatoes, made in a different way than usual.
To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed by the way it looks on this post, but the taste was unbelievable. The duck was soft and juicy; the chicory crisp; the potatoes creamy; and the sauce deep and piquant. It was quite a triumph, even if I do say so myself.
2 duck breasts
1 tbsp oil
For the blackberry sauce
Large handful of fresh blackberries
1 small glass good quality red wine (I used Medoc)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
For the potatoes
1 large baking potato
1/2 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300ml semi-skimmed milk
100ml double cream
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
For the chicory
2 heads of chicory, separated into leaves
Knob of butter
1. Put the duck breasts into a Sous Vide vacuum pouch and seal. Poach in a water bath – set to 55C for rare or 60C for medium-rare (I went for rare) – for two hours. If you don’t have a water bath, you can skip this stage.
2. Make the blackberry sauce by putting the blackberries in a blender and whizzing for a few seconds until totally pureed. Push through a sieve into a small saucepan. Discard the seeds left behind.
3. Heat the puree and whisk in the wine and vinegar. Simmer to reduce to a syrupy consistency, approx. 10 mins.
4. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1cm thick slices. Put the milk and double cream into a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Carefully lower in the potato slices and cook until tender, approx. 10 mins.
5. Remove the potatoes from the milk and set aside to cool. Don’t discard the milk and cream mixture.
6. Butter two cooking rings and set on a shallow baking dish. Add slices of potato, onion and garlic in layers. Cook in a preheated oven for 25-30 mins until the tops become crisp and golden.
7. Meanwhile, turn the heat up under the milk/cream mixture to reduce to a thick-ish consistency, enough to coat the back of a spoon.
8. Snip open the Sous Vide packs and drain the duck breasts. With a sharp knife, slit the skin and fat almost to the flesh.
9. Add the oil to a frying pan and fry the breasts skin-side down for around 2-3 mins, until the skin becomes crisp and golden. If you haven’t used a Sous Vide, simply cook the breasts in the same way, but for around 12-15 mins.
10. Meanwhile, add the butter to another pan and stir-fry the chicory leaves for approx. 5 mins, until they wilt but don’t collpse.
11. Carve the duck breasts into 1cm-thick slices. Carefully remove the cooking rings from the potato stacks. Put the duck, potatoes and chicory on a plate. Dress the duck and chicory with the blackberry sauce and drizzle the milk-cream mixture over the potato stacks.