Spring might be around the corner but there is always a time delay between the actual weather and the produce being ready to match the type of food we want to eat in that weather. The new season vegetables, or “primeurs” in French (of course they have a name for them!) still need more sunshine to grow and for their sweetness to develop. Being English, at the first sign of sunshine we are already expecting peas and strawberries! Despite them being inextricably associated with Wimbledon, which takes place in early July, the strawberry season in France can actually start as early as March if not already, whilst white asparagus is always the first of the Spring vegetables to appear. Something to look forward to in the coming weeks from LMDC Hampers,, but today is the time to appreciate the last of the Winter fare. The walnut sauce is a deliciously full-flavoured accompaniment that can be made in an instant and just needs a blender. This should become a staple in your repertoire; it’s so easy to make and great this time of year. It might make more than you need but just freeze any leftover for a rainy day or use tossed in some fresh pasta, with some rosemary and parmesan on top; there really is no point in making less. For the duck breasts, you will need to score the fat; do note it is always easier to do when it is fridge-cold. The fat will be firm and the knife will glide through rather than drag on something softer. Then bring from the fridge to temper and out 2 hours before cooking. Enjoy!
2 slices White bread, chopped
375g Water, vegetable stock or chicken stock, hot
150g Walnuts, toasted until golden in the oven (approx 10 mins at 170C)
10g Parmesan, grated
1 Garlic clove
40g Virgin rapeseed oil (though walnut or olive oil would be fine)
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Brown sugar
15g Lemon juice
- Blend everything together in a blender until smooth.
2 Duck breasts, at room temperature, scored
4 handfuls Dandelion
1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
2 tbsp Runny honey
Pinch Toasted cumin seed and coriander seed (coarsely crushed)
- Grate the zest from the orange and keep in a small bowl.
- Segment the oranges and save any juice.
- Season the duck breast well all over with fine salt then colour skin-side down in a room temperature pan on a medium heat until rendered and golden brown. It will start slowly to render the fat, then as it remains on the heat, turn a deep golden brown. It should take about 10 mins.
- Pour off most of the fat and reserve, then flip over and colour the flesh side until a deep golden brown.
- Remove from the heat and spoon a little honey over each breast, then the spices if using.
- Transfer to a plate and top loosely with a sheet of tinfoil (you want to trap the heat but allow some steam to escape so it doesn’t keep on cooking). Leave to rest for no less than 10 mins.
- Mix 4 tbsp of the duck fat with 1 tbsp sherry vinegar, then add the orange zest and juice.
- Dress the dandelion with this then mix in the orange segments.- Carve the duck, and serve with the salad and warm walnut sauce.