Duck breast is a special occasion item and there's no better occasion for it than Christmas. This duck breast with plums is deceptively easy yet it looks complicated. Best of all this duck breast recipe can be done in 30 minutes. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
Duck is one of those meats that I don't often cook at home but I cook chicken a lot. This duck breast recipe is a version of Kylie Kwong's signature dish: crispy duck with Davidson plums. Kylie's recipe is more complex as it involves steaming a whole duck for an hour and then deep frying pieces of it. This is really a method better suited to restaurants than home cooks as it can be hard to get a steamer big enough for a whole duck and chopping up a whole duck with a cleaver can also be a challenge (trust me, I've been there).
This version is much easier as it uses duck breasts which are also very easy to serve as you just slice them up (I created this recipe for Luv-a-duck on Instagram). You steam the duck breasts for 15 minutes rather than an hour and then grill them under a hot grill (or you can pan fry the skin to crisp it up, it's up to you). The ingredients list is actually quite simple given the wonderful result. The plum sauce is a cinch and just involves making a syrup and adding plums, Christmassy spices like cinnamon, clove and star anise as well as fish sauce and lime juice.
Plums aren't quite yet in season so I used tinned plums which worked beautifully and you can also use the syrup in the tin to make the sauce so there's no waste. I also used the water with the rendered juices from the steaming the duck when it came to steaming the rice to give it a delicious flavour and I also used the duck fat rendered from grilling to roast some asparagus in (you can also use the duck fat for potatoes as duck fat potatoes are a wonderful treat). I loved that nothing went to waste here and it was easy but best of all it was utterly delicious!
This was one of those dishes that was surprisingly easy to make from beginning to end and although I had dedicated the whole afternoon to making it, it was done so quickly that I have some free time. Recently something that I thought would be easy wasn't so easy. One evening I was going out to dinner with a friend but that afternoon I felt something irritating in one eye. I was wearing contact lenses and if you wear them too then you'll know how painful it can be. I wasn't sure if it was an eyelash or the contact so I took out the contact and my eye immediately felt better. I looked closer and there was the tiniest crack in the contact.
I continued working for a bit and then time got away from me and I realised I had to leave. I rushed out the door and while driving to the restaurant realised that I only had one contact lens in. I wondered if it would be ok driving home. Night driving is never great with contacts but there was a chance that we would be finished while it was still light as we were meeting quite early.
After dinner I got into the car and it was dark outside. I started driving and well, it wasn't great. Thankfully I knew the route somewhat and there weren't a lot of cars on the road but my vision was blurry in one eye. I wondered if I should call Mr NQN to pick me up but he was fast asleep on the couch. So I continued driving and wondering what if I close that eye? So I closed the contact-less eye and everything was clear again. So that's how I drove home with one eye shut wishing I had an eye patch handy.
Oh I also forgot to mention that for some reason the high beam lights were on. Our car used to have this habit of just turning high beam on although it hadn't done it in years since a service and well I felt like a one eye cat driving home with bright lights beaming at everyone. I got home safely and told a friend about it. She said that she had once driven home with prescription sunglasses because she forgot her regular glasses.
Then the next day when Mr NQN and I were driving he asked me about the high beam. "How did you turn it off?" he asked. "I twisted the knob on the lever but it wouldn't turn off," I answered him. "Did you try this?" he said pushing the lever which of course switched them off immediately. So yes there was drama driving home last night and all of it was really my doing - I guess I do tend to make simple things more complicated at times!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you cook chicken a lot but not duck? Have you ever had trouble driving somewhere?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Duck Breast With Spiced Plums
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 1 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes concurrently
- 4 duck breasts (around 190g/200g/7ozs. each)
- 3/4 tablespoon salt
- 3/4 tablespoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Oil for brushing
- 1 cup/250ml/8/8flozs. water
- 1 cup/220g/7.7ozs. sugar (or omit the water and sugar and use the syrup from the tinned plums)
- 420g/15ozs. tin plums in syrup (reserve syrup) or 250g/8.8ozs. fresh plums
- 6 star anise
- 1 cassia or cinnamon stick
- 8 cloves
- 2/3 cup/165ml/5.6flozs. fish sauce
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
Step 1 - Mix the salt and pepper together and coat the duck breasts on all sides with this seasoning. Steam the duck breasts for 15 minutes (they won't be fully cooked at this stage, only half cooked). Remove and rest for 10-15 minutes if you have the time. I reserve the steaming water with all of the duck juices to make rice with.
Step 2 - While the duck is steaming make the syrup and preheat the grill til hot. Boil the water and sugar together on medium high heat for 5 minutes to make a syrup. Then add the plums, star anise, cassia or cinnamon and cloves and simmer for 1 minute. Add the fish sauce (I know 2/3 cup of fish sauce seems like a lot but it works) and lime juice and stir.
Dusting steamed duck with flour
Brushing with oil
Step 3 - Roll the steamed duck breasts in the flour shaking off any excess and place on a heat proof baking tray. Brush the floured duck with some oil and place skin side up under the grill. You can also do this in a frying pan frying skin side down. Grill for 5-8 minutes (5 mins if you want it pink and 8 if you want it cooked through) and the the skin is crisp and it is done to your liking. Remove from heat and rest for 5-10 minutes and then slice up and serve with the sauce on top.
Duck breasts after grilling