Friday, 19 February 2016

A Lime and Juniper Seasoning for Duck

I always think of Duck as something you cook for a special occasions - I think this steams from our family Boxing Day ritual of having Roast Duck cooked at my Grandma's. My Mum would cook for everyone on Christmas Day and then we would all pile over to my Grandparents for Boxing Day.

In my mind duck will forever be associated with large family meals and therefore, I feel I have to do something fancy when I buy it. Which is really a bit incongruous, since I think duck tastes the best roasted with some sea salt rubbed into the skin. But that just doesn't feel right - I can't shake the need I have to pamper and prep the duck before cooking, to plan complicated marinades, seasonings and sauces.

So to that end, I have come up with a seasoning that is a simple treatment for the duck but also feels 'chefie' enough to satisfy my 'pampering and prep-ing' needs.

This lime and juniper seasoning brings a lovely flavour to the duck. The lime is zesty and fresh with the juniper adding a rich 'berry' flavour. You want the flavours to get right into the meat so you will need to prepare at least a couple of hours before cooking or if possible, leave it overnight.

Recipe - enough for two duck breasts

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 heaped teaspoon juniper berries
zest of a large lime
1 teaspoon sea salt

2 duck breasts

Cast iron pan or griddle to cook.

To make the seasoning place all the ingredients into a pestle and grind togethe - making sure you crush up the peppercorns well. It makes a rather damp seasoning because of the juice in the lime and berries - don't worry it's meant to be like that.

Pat the duck skin dry and then score across. Take half the seasoning and rub well into the skin making sure some goes into each cut. Then rub the last bits left on your hands onto the underside, just to get a bit more flavour into the meat.

Place the duck into a sealed container and pop in the fridge.

About 20 minutes before cooking remove the duck breasts from the fridge to allow them to come up to room temperature and for the meat to relax.

Heat your griddle to a very high temperature - like you would if you were cooking steak - and when it's really hot place skin side down and leave it for the skin to crisp and all the fat to be released.

I always cook it on the ridged side of a griddle so it catches all the fat, removing it away from the skin. If you don't have that option try and spoon/mop excess fat away from the duck as it cooks - there will be alot! Cook for about 10 minutes or until the skin is crispy then turn it over and continue to cook until you happy with the texture. I like my duck pink but I know many don't, so cook it how you like it.

Leave to rest for a few minutes before slicing and then serve on warm plates with a little salad, or new potatoes and minted peas.

My Grandma always served her duck with apple sauce, so apples are always a must with duck for me as well!

This time I combined lightly cooked apple slices with sugar snap peas, petit pois and spring onions to accompany the dish. All lightly buttered with a little salt and pepper.

Have a good weekend
Love Lizx

 lime and juniper seasoning