How to make it

  • 1. Start your duck a day ahead. Using a sharp knife, slash deep cuts through the skin, in a lattice pattern. Place the meat in a casserole or shallow bowl and set aside.
  • 2. For the marinade, mix the honey and soy sauce in a saucepan until combined, stir in the cognac/bourbon and cinnamon and mix well. Place the pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat after 2 minutes, allowing some of the alcohol to evaporate.
  • 3. Drizzle over the duck, cover the dish with clingfilm and chill for 24 hours, turning the meat occasionally so that the marinade is distributed evenly.
  • 4. The following day, preheat the oven to 340 F. (170ºC).
  • 5. Peel and finely chop the shallots, finely chop the sugared almonds and chop the butter into cubes.
  • 6. Heat 40g of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the chopped shallots and sauté for 8 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize, then remove from the heat and add the almonds.
  • 7. Place a duck breast skin-side down, cover with the shallots and nuts, then top with the second breast, skin-side up. Wrap 3 or 4 pieces of kitchen string around the breasts, 3 to 4cm apart, securing with a knot. Set aside.
  • For the purée:
  • 8. Put the unpeeled potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water over a high heat and bring to the boil. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until you can easily insert a knife into them.
  • 9. Meanwhile, put the duck parcel in a heavy-based, ovenproof frying pan over a low heat and cook for 5 minutes on each side, then place the pan in the oven for 6 minutes, to give perfectly rare meat (8 minutes for medium) See Photo. Take the duck out of the pan, cover and leave to rest.
  • 10. When they’re ready, drain the potatoes and set aside to cool a bit. Peel while they’re still warm, then mash into a fine purée.
  • 11. Transfer to a saucepan and cook, stirring often, over a medium heat for 5 minutes, before gradually introducing the remaining cold butter, mixing well with a spatula until combined. Set aside.
  • 12. In a separate pan, bring the milk to the boil over a medium heat, add a pinch of nutmeg, then stir into the potato mixture until absorbed.
  • 13. Cut the strings on the duck, carve into thick slices and serve with the puréed potatoes on the side.
  • For the life of me, I can’t figure why this recipe calls for moving the duck to the oven in step 9. Maybe they were freezing and needed to warm up the kitchen.
  • Obviously, you can do this with any veggies you like. Last time I made it I did regular mashed spuds.

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