Sometimes you come across a recipe that really works well with the minimum of fuss. Yes, the purists may sneer, but this recipe is so easy and when I cooked it on telly last year I had a huge response, probably one of the most popular of the year. Yes, it uses tinned apricots, and yes, it uses jarred peppercorns in brine, but it works. Just because you use a tin or jar doesn’t mean to say that you can’t get a great end result. Go on, try it!
Sautéed Wild Duck Breast With Apricots, Green Peppercorns & Five-Spice
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: about 15 minutes, plus resting
2-3 pinches of Chinese five-spice powder, plus extra for seasoning
4 wild duck breasts, removed from the crowns, skin side scored through the fat but not the flesh
salt and freshly ground black pepper
350g tin apricots in syrup
1 tbsp drained green peppercorns in brine, plus a few extra
1 tbsp peppercorn brine from the jar
sugar, for seasoning
juice of 1 large lemon
2-3 tbsp olive oil
4 pak choi, cut lengthways into quarters
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
Heat a dry non-stick frying pan.
Sprinkle the five-spice powder over the duck breasts and rub in well, then season well with salt and pepper.
Place skin side down in the hot pan and cook for about 6-7 minutes until the fat runs.
Turn over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the stove, then transfer the duck to a warm plate, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Do not leave for too long, otherwise it will overcook.
Meanwhile, put the apricots and syrup into a blender or food-processor with the peppercorns and the brine and whizz well.
Pour into a small bowl and season well with salt and pepper, sugar and five-spice, then add a few whole peppercorns.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, add half the pak choi and season with a little five-spice. Sauté until slightly wilted, then add half the soy sauce and mirin and stir well.
Spoon into a bowl, then wipe out the pan with kitchen paper and repeat.
To serve, slice the duck across the grain into six or seven slices and drain well. Spoon the pak choi in the middle of a warm plate or bowl, lay the duck over and drizzle with the apricot sauce.
Extracted from Game by Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy (Kyle Books, approx €25). Photography by Peter Cassidy.