Monday, March 21, 2011

Back to the Future

It was a staple of every restaurant menu in the 1970's and, therefore, it's reputation has suffered by association as the food revolution over the last 30 years has taken us through nouvelle cuisine, fusion food and the rediscovery of British cooking.

Some 70's classics have survived by being reinvented for the modern palate - the prawn cocktail springs to mind - although I can't see anything wrong with the original version which we still eat on a regular basis.

The dish I am talking about is duck a l'orange. It has the air of Robert Carrier and Graham Kerr hanging over it and I can't remember the last time I saw it on a restaurant menu. Yet the time is ripe for a revival because French cuisine is back in vogue in a big way with new French restaurants opening in London and New York at an astonishing rate over the last year or so.

It is a fabulous dish and has become a firm favourite at 42rvh, especially during the winter months when there is a plentiful supply of good oranges coming up from Spain and winter bitter leaves which make the ideal salad to offset the rich duck and fruity orange - and of course we always have duck to hand.

This is how I prepare it for 2 people.
- Take one large duck breast (preferably magret). Score the fatty side in a criss-cross pattern down to the flesh.
- Make a marinade with the juice and zest of 2 oranges and a tablespoon each of runny honey, ground cinnamon and soy sauce. Marinate the duck breast overnight in the fridge.
- To cook, in a dry pan fry the duck breast skin side down over a medium heat for 10 minutes to render and brown the fat. When done tip away any excess fat from the pan, turn the breast over, add the marinade and orange segments from another orange and cook for a further 5 minutes. Then remove the duck breast to a board to rest, add 25 gms of butter to the marinade and reduce a little.
- to serve, slice the duck breast at an angle and arrange on two plates (approx 4-5 slices each) and dress with the sauce and a dressed mixed salad (I like to use radicchio and frisee).

It is important to cook the duck on a medium heat - I can't remember how many I have burnt by having the heat too high or not keeping an eye on it. If you can't get hold of a large magret de canard then you may need 2 smaller duck breasts and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Last week we found some delicious and beautiful blood oranges in the market and experimented with them in this dish. The taste was not particularly any different but the colour of the blood orange segments certainly added a spectacular dimension.

So find the Glam Rock compilation on your ipod and give it a go.

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