French Game Main course

Duck with madiera sauce


  • 4 duck breasts
  • Madeira sauce:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • About 100g meat trimmings
  • (we used stewing steak)
  • 250ml Madeira (or Marsala)
  • 150 ml port
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • Crushed peas:
  • 300g frozen peas
  • Small buch of mint, leaves only
  • Olive oil
  • Glazed onions:
  • 150g baby onions juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 20g butter
  • 1-2 tbsp runny honey
  • Celeriac puree:
  • 1 celariac
  • 20g butter
  • 100ml double cream


First, make the sauce. This can be done well ahead of time. Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan. Add the shallots, herbs and garlic and sweat for a few minutes until softened. add the meat trimmings and fry for a few minutes until browned. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and port and let it bubble until reduced by two-thirds. Pour in the stock and bring back to the boil. Reduce again by two-thirds or until the sauce has thickened to a syrupy consistency. Pass through a sieve into a bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside until required. warm through in a pan to serve.

Next, prepare the onions. Immerse them in boiling water for 1 minute – this makes them much easier to peel. Once peeled, add to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain and pat dry on kitchen paper. set aside until needed. When ready to serve, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and fry until they start to colour. Add the butter, honey, a squeeze of lemon juice and some seasoning.

The crushed peas and celariac puree can be prepared ahead of time and just warmed through when ready to serve. To make the peas, add the peas and mint to a pan of boiling water and blanch for 2-3 minutes. Drain and tip into a food processor. Add a good glug of olive oil and pulse for a few seconds until lightly crushed but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste. set aside until required.

To make the celeriac puree, peel and chop the celeriac. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the celeriac and some seasoning. Stir over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until the celeriac is starting to soften. Reduce the heat, add the cream and cover with a lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes until it is very soft. While still hot, transfer to a food processor and blend to a fine puree. Season to taste. Reheat before serving.

Heat the oven to 200C. Put a small roasting tray in the oven to heat up.

Prepare the duck: score the fat on easch breast by cutting across it with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut through to the meat. Season with salt. Put a heavy frying pan on the hob over a medium heat. Add the duck breasts to the pan, skin side down. Allow to sear for 10 minutes or so on a medium heat until nicely brown and a lot of fat has been released. Turn the breasts over and cook for 1 minute. Remove the duck from the pan and tranfer to the pre-heated roasting tray. (You can keep the fat for roasting potatoes). Roast in the oven for 6-10 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts – it should still be pink. When cooked, remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

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