The vibrant tarragon and earthy beetroot in this dish are fabulous with rich duck breast, and the colours are beautiful too. To counteract the softness, serve it with oven-warmed root vegetable crisps or fresh red chicory leaves for their bitter edginess. served on a plate is a bit 2011, but do what you need to do here.
Breast of duck with tarragon and beetroot
The vibrant tarragon and earthy beetroot sauces in this dish are fabulous with rich duck breast, and the colours are beautiful too. To counteract the softness, serve it with oven-warmed root vegetable crisps.
4 duck breasts
2 small bunches fresh tarragon (about 40g)
2 tbsp butter
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
250ml chicken stock
140ml single cream
3 large beetroot, roasted until soft, or 2 vacuum packs of ready cooked beetroot
With a sharp knife (a Stanley knife works brilliantly), score the duck skin in a criss-cross pattern. Strip the tarragon leaves from their stalks.
Melt the butter in a small pan and cook the shallots with the tarragon stalks, until the shallots are soft but not coloured. Add 5floz/140ml of the chicken stock and reduce by half. Stir in the cream, bring back to the boil and then remove from the heat. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and plunge in the tarragon leaves. After 20 seconds, drain well and transfer to a blender.
Add the cream mixture and blend until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve. Taste and season with salt and a little pepper. Peel the beetroots if necessary and chop them roughly. Whizz in a blender with the remaining chicken stock to make a smooth purée-cum-sauce. (A food processor won't get it completely smooth. If you don't have a blender or liquidiser, serve the duck with cubes of beetroot heated in a little butter.) Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6.
Season the duck breasts and place them skin-side down in a medium-hot pan.
Cook until the skin starts to colour, then transfer to the oven, still on the skin side.
Roast for 5-8 minutes, depending on how well done you like it. Allow the duck to rest in a warm spot for 5-10 minutes, while you reheat the beetroot purée and tarragon sauce. Slice the duck and serve with the purée and sauce.