"I remember one of my first jobs as a young commis chef was to pluck hundreds of game birds after a shoot on the estate I was working on. I looked like something out of Ghostbusters with a hoover on my back, goggles, and a bandana to cover my mouth from all the dusty feathers. Oh, the fun I had in the plucking shed! This dish is very simple to cook. Make sure you season the meat before, during and after cooking, and crisp the skin by cooking mainly skin-side down in a heavy pan alongside the potatoes with some thyme and garlic. Use whatever veg you like. Kale, spinach or cabbage are all excellent, but remember to use any fat rendered from the duck when you season the veg before serving."
Prep time: 20 minutes; cooking time: 20 minutes
2 free-range duck breasts
1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil
4 to 6 spears of British asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 to 6 radishes, quartered
4 to 6 new potatoes, little sweet ones are great, scrubbed, par-boiled and halved
2 tablespoons duck fat
1 sprig of thyme
1 clove of garlic, smashed
Good salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 180°C.
Season the breasts with good salt and pepper. Heat a pan on the hob then add the cold-pressed rapeseed oil and place the breasts skin-side-down in the pan, ensuring good contact is made between the skin and the pan. Turn over after cooking for 2 to 3 minutes and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes. Then turn the breasts back to skin-side-down and add the thyme, garlic and potatoes to the pan and place in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until the duck is cooked medium rare. The firmer the duck is to the touch, the more well-cooked it is.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and season with salt. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes on a rolling boil.
Remove the pan from the oven, and transfer the duck breasts to a warm plate to rest. Once rested, season.
Add the radishes and the cooked asparagus to the potatoes and stir in the duck fat. The pan should still be quite hot from the oven.
To serve, either slice the duck, or leave them whole as I prefer, and place on a plate with the asparagus, potatoes and radishes as a garnish on top.