Gordon recommends that you buy either Gressingham or Barnaby duck breasts – both breeds are prized for their superlative flavour. For convenience, the sauce can be made in advance and reheated just before serving.
P.S. – The duck breast on the picture is overcooked. Don’t do that. Overcooked duck breast feels like eating a shoe. Ideally, you want it to have a nice pink complexion, i.e. to be medium rare.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
To marinate the breasts:
4 duck breasts, about 225 g each
4 juniper berries (yes, 4)
pinch of caraway seeds (a.k.a. Persian cumin)
1 tbsp allspice (Chinese)
freshly ground pepper to taste
Spiced orange and Cranberry Sauce
100 ml ruby port
100 g fresh cranberries
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
300 ml chicken stock
1-2 tsp cranberry or red currant jelly, to taste
30 g butter, diced
1. Lightly score the skins of the duck breasts with a sharp knife. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the juniper berries, caraway seeds, allspice, 1 tbsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper to a powder. Rub the spice mix all over the duck breasts and leave to marinate in the fridge, wrapped very well. The longer you let them marinate, the better. Overnight is ideal.
2. Lay the duck breasts, skin side down, in a dry heavy-based large frying pan and gradually turn up the heat. Fry for 5 minutes, until most of the fat has rendered and the skin is golden brown. Turn over and lightly brown the other side. Leave to rest in a warm place while you make the sauce. (Leaving to rest in a warm place is very important, as you don’t want to be serving a cold dinner!)
3. For the sauce, pour off the excess fat from the frying pan and place over a high heat. Pour in the port, stirring to de-glaze, and let bubble for a minute. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the butter, and bring to the boil. Let bubble until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds and thickened to a syrupy consistency. The cranberries should be very soft; squash a few with a wooden spoon, leaving the others whole. Add any juices from the resting duck. Taste and adjust the seasoning and add a little more jelly if desired. Finally, add the butter and shake the pan to incorporate it as it melts.
5. Slice the duck breasts on the diagonal and fan them out on warmed serving plates. Spoon the sauce around the duck and serve with parsnip puree and creamed cabbage with thyme if you like.
Recipe taken from Gordon Ramsey’s Christmas with Gordon (Quadrille)