Duck breast

This is a typical Gascon dish, and one that we enjoy quite frequently.  In the winter it’s lovely served with potatoes fried in duck fat and green beans. In the summer it’s delicious finely sliced and served lukewarm on a green salad with orange slices and mint. It should not be overcooked  – the meat should be pink.  The aim of a good magret de canard is a crisp skin on the outside and liberation of all the fat between the skin and the meat (which is why the fat should be drained off several times).

Everyone benefits from this dish; we eat the meat and the dog eats the fat, which is often slung across the table at him (not by me I hasten to add). Not that he actually sits at the table with us, obviously. It’s funny though how his ‘catch on the fly’ reflexes are spot-on when it comes to catching airborne duck fat, far more so than for catching common or garden morsels.

One last thing. Please remember if asking for this in a restaurant in France that it is ‘magret de canard’ and not, as a friend of my once ordered, ‘magret de connard’; the former is duck breast, the latter roughly translated means ‘breast of arsehole’…

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 duck breasts

rock salt, pepper

1 tablespoon of honey

star anise

Preheat the oven to very hot (220°C). Score the duck breasts on the fatty side using a very sharp knife, cutting in a parallel lines. Generously Season both sides of each breast with the rock salt and pepper and then the honey.  Put the two breasts together, fat side out. Bind with colourless string.  Cook for 15 minutes on one side, remove from oven and drain the fat. Then 15 minutes on the other side, remove and drain. Put back for another 15 minutes or until the skin is golden brown.

Slice into slices of just under a centimetre and serve.

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