Both Andrew and I got super lucky at Christmas 2017 as both our wives bought us copies of Institute Paul Bocuse Gastronomique. This book is something of a godsend for home cooks who want to master the basics, the classics, and move on to making really great food. Through thousands of photographs, the book takes cooking step by step, build on one skill after another until (if you follow the entire volume), you will be able to cook pretty much anything in the classic European food canon. Short of dropping work for 3 years going to culinary college, this was the best cooking education either of us were going to get. Of course, this concept of ‘knowing shit’ is the whole idea of The Nosey Chef, so as you can imagine, Andrew and I were on the phone to each other on Boxing Day squealing like little girls over this goldmine of information that had landed in our laps.
In the northern Nosey Kitchen, we cook a lot of duck. This is because Mrs Nosey North does not eat four-legged animals, NoseyKid(TM) loves duck like no other thing in the world, and The Nosey Chef finds it ludicrously easy to cook. I have a couple or more recipes that I have returned to again and again, so I was enchanted to find something new to try in the recipe section of Bocuse. The dish I found is very easy to do, if a bit time consuming in the prep. The version give here is adapted to apples where the original uses pears.
Duck breast with spices and sautéed apple
- 4 duck breasts
- For the spice reduction:
- 10g pink peppercorns
- 10g fennel seeds
- Pinch of chilli powder
- 10 coriander seeds
- 5g Sichuan pepper
- 5g white peppercorns
- 100ml wine vinegar
- 100g clear honey
- 100ml dry white wine
- For the apples:
- 4 apples
- 10g butter
- 15g caster sugar
- For the sauce:
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 10ml dry white wine
- 250ml stock (duck if you can get it or make it, failing that use chicken)
- 10g butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Begin by making a spice reduction. Grind all the spices. Heat the vinegar, honey and wine with the spices, and boil until thickened. Strain and keep warm.
Peel, core and quarter the apples. Heat the butter and sugar in a frying pan, add the apples and cook until browned and cooked through. Take care not to overcook the apples or they will fall apart.
Make a sauce by sweating the shallot in olive oil, and deglazing the pan with wine. Add the stock and 1 tbsp of the spice reduction. Boil, strain and whisk in the butter until emulsified.
Heat an oven to 200˚C. Trim the excess fat from the duck breasts, and score the skin in a neat criss-cross pattern. Remove the silverskin and sinew from the non-skin side. Season, and fry skin-side down in a dry frying pan until the skin is crispy. Transfer the duck to a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 mins. Once cooked, take the breasts out and rest them. Do not be tempted to carve them too soon, or all the juices will run out.
Brush the duck skin with some of the spice reduction. Put some sauce on the plate, carve the duck and place it on top of the sauce. Arrange the apple slices around.
We served this with some steamed, spiralised carrots, and glazed baby onions.