Monday, 23 January 2012

Duck Breast with Madeira Sauce

When I want something rich and tasty that isn’t beef or lamb, duck is always a good one to turn to, especially when they’re on offer as they were when I cooked this
It also helped that I’d been out in the week and seen a colleague having duck.
The sweetness of the Madeira goes really well with the duck and makes a change from the ubiquitous Plum or Orange.
You may note I use flour to thicken my sauce, as far as I can tell a true Madeira  wouldn't hold much truck with such a notion. I however like my sauces to slide of the spoon rather than splatter. If you don't want to thicken you're sauce leave that bit out

A lot of people claim that duck is really fatty and greasy, it can be but then that depends on how you cook it

As for the crushed potatoes, I went for the crème fraiche as it gives a vague nod towards potato dauphinoise but with a more rustic approach and far less cream

Of course the cabbage is there to give a veg type balance to the dish, what you have is optional and depends greatly on your mood or what's in the house. The method here gently steams the cabbage so that it retains its colour and bite. The white pepper gives a little heat and fragrance that goes perfectly with cabbage or other greens of this nature.

If I’m honest I still haven’t mastered true crispy duck skin outside of Chinese cooking but I’m getting there

Duck Breast with Madeira Sauce

2 Duck Breasts
Groundnut oil

200 ml Madeira
300 ml Chicken Stock
1 Shallot finely Chopped
Tablespoon flour (for thickening, if you want to)

Crushed Potatoes
Enough Potatoes for two
1 Clove of Garlic crushed
125 ml Crème Fraiche

½ Savoy Cabbage, washed, central stem removed
Nob of butter
White pepper
2 shot glasses of water

Put the potatoes in a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 2 mins

Shred the cabbage, put into a frying pan, add the butter, water and pepper

With a sharp knife score, diagonally, the skin of the duck breast
Rub each duck breast with oil and season well with salt and pepper

Heat a heavy frying pan until hot, place the duck breasts skin side down and fry for 6-8 mins, Gently turn over, the skin should now be golden and crispy. Cook on the other side for a further 5-8 mins or until it’s cooked to your liking.

Remove from the pan, cover in foil and rest

Pour off all but a teaspoon of the duck fat and put to one side

Check the potatoes with a sharp knife, if they’re done, drain and place into a serving dish, cover with foil and keep warm in an oven

Gently fry the shallot in the pan with the duck fat until soft
De-Glaze the pan with the stock and Madeira mix
Season with Salt and pepper

In a small bowl and liquid (table spoon at a time) from the pan to the flour, mix and repeat until you achieve a smooth loose paste.
Pour the paste into the sauce and whisk to avoid lumps, simmer

Mix the crushed garlic into the crème fraiche
Crush (not mash) the potatoes with the back of a fork
Spoon on the crème fraiche

Put a lid on the cabbage, turn on the heat and cook for about 5 mins, shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking. Check cabbage so that it’s cooked to your liking

Pour any juices from the resting duck breasts into the sauce and whisk

Slice the duck diagonally and arrange on the plate

Sprinkle chopped spring onions or chives on top of the potato/crème fraiche

You're ready to go


  1. I love duck but after a disaster of an attempt to cook it a few years ago I've not tried since, prefer to enjoy it when I eat out. Maybe it's time I tried again?
    I like the sound of the Maderia sauce as you say it makes a change from the standard orange or plum. I think the Savoy Cabbage is perfect with duck. Interestingly the last time I ate duck out it was with a Strawberry and Pepper Jus, which was very tasty.

  2. thanks for the comment Garden..... you should give duck another go, if roasting puts you off, just try the breast, its simple to do an any number of sauces out there. The strawberry one sounds intriguing if a little weird