Gressingham duck with blackcurrant and cassis sauce

A Gressingham duck is rather like a Hoover. By that I mean a it’s a brand name that has become a noun. Tim and I were wondering about this the other day – whether Gressingham was a breed, or a brand name. Or a place of origin.  It turns out it’s all three. Gressingham duck is a wild mallard crossed with Pekin duck – known as a Long Island duck in the USA. There’s a lot of breast meat on it, and it’s know for its gamey flavour. It was bred in Gressingham, Lancashire by the Buchanen family, who later bought exclusive rights to breed the ducks, hence it becoming a brand name.

I was wondering about ducks and what they eat, when walking in the park. The ducks in the park here are also like a Hoover – for different reasons. They hoover up a lot of rubbish factory-produced bread that’s thrown to them. It can’t be good for them to eat stuff that’s so so nutritionless. I was chuckling at the thought that the ducks and swans on the river at Richmond where we used to walk probably live on discarded Poilane bread.

Duck with blackcurrant and cassis sauce

Gressingham duck with blackcurrant and cassis

I’ve fed the ducks and Canada geese here a few times with some sourdough, but having looked on the intertubes just now, it seems feeding them any kind of bread isn’t really a good idea, and not necessary for their survival – even in the coldest weather. If you’re going to feed ducks for the fun of it – and it is nice seeing them waddling up to see what’s in the bag, seeds would be better for them.

I love the colours of this dish, how the the blackcurrant and cassis sauce bleeds into the whiteness of the celeriac mash. I like the way the duck skin catches a little, offset by the softness of the mash.

This is an adaption of a recipe from ‘Ripailles’ by Stephane Reynaud.

Ingredients

2 Gressingham duck breasts

Blackcurrants 150g

1 whole celeriac, chopped into 1 inch cubes

110 g butter – 40g for the blackcurrant sauce, 70g for the celeriac.

120 ml Creme de cassis

300 ml red wine

2 shallots, finely chopped

1/2 a lemon for juice

Salt & black pepper

Make the sauce first. In a hot pan, pour in the red wine and reduce by half. Add the finely chopped shallots. Add the creme de cassis. Add the blackcurrants. Tim had some blackcurrants  in the freezer from a foraging day, he put them in frozen. Reduce down to a syrupy consistency. The blackcurrants will break down a bit, but you’re not looking for a completely smooth texture – in this case lumpy is good. Add the 40g butter. Check the seasoning – add a touch of salt. Put aside and turn to the celeriac.

How to make the blackcurrant and cassis sauce

Blackcurrant sauce

Put the diced celeriac into a large pan of cold water, and squeeze in the lemon juice. Tim’s note: anything grown below the ground (root veg) start in cold water. Anything grown above the ground, drop into hot water. It will take approximately 15 minutes to cook – test with a knife – it should be completely soft. Drain and put aside, keep warm.

With a very sharp knife score the skin of the duck breast in a criss cross pattern – don’t go into the flesh. Season the duck breast on both sides. Place in a hot pan, skin side down, no oil needed. Render the fat (melt down) on a low to medium heat, for 10 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 5 minutes. Rest the duck for 10 minutes before plating up. During this time, go back to the celeriac – mash and add the butter, season.

Panfry the duck

Panfry the duck

Slice the breast into 5 or 6 sections, lay out the celeriac and place the duck on it, then spoon over the blackcurrant sauce.

Duck with blackcurrant and cassis sauce

Panfried duck with blackcurrant and cassis

None of these ducks were harmed in the making of this dish

None of these ducks were harmed in the making of this dish.

A post Mayan End of Days supper

Well, it didn’t happen did it? Although the way people were descending on the local supermarkets it looked as if many people were stocking up for the apocalypse. Or maybe just Christmas. We headed off to the local farm instead.

Freerange chicken crossing the road to Hazledene Farm

Why did the chicken..

We spent some time with the chickens there – they are so relaxing, the way they cluck about happily. They are given complete freedom to potter about, the gates to their enclosures are open doing the day; they wander up and down the long drive way, in and out of areas of pasture, and around the farm shop.

No one here but us chickens

No one here but us chickens

In the farm shop one of the chaps working there spotted our crestfallen looks when we saw the fresh eggs tray empty. (They do stock other free range eggs when theirs aren’t laying, but we wanted the rare breed ones.) He slipped out of the shop and returned a couple of minutes later with a plastic container of muddy, but fresh eggs. He was apologetic about the mud – there’d been a constant deluge recently, and the some of the chicken were looking like they’d been having fun in the mud.

Freerange chickens including Marsh Daisies and Ixworth

Freeranging

Tim crouching down with the chickens

Chicken whisperer

 Free range Rare breed chickens on Hazeldene

Rare breed chickens freeranging

Rare breed chickens

I had to chuckle at Tim’s recipe-making in the kitchen today. The plan was that he’d make one of my favourite dishes – a perfectly poached egg with Halloumi and Puy lentils. Perfect for the post apocalyptic supper.

But Tim went free-range himself – with the Halloumi, poached eggs, the lentils cooked with a hickory smoked chicken stock, a salsa of chargrilled tomato and and a truffle infused cream sauce. And pickled red cabbage made the day before.

The chicken stock was made earlier with a free range Label Anglaise chicken – the farm doesn’t sell their rare breeds to eat.

Chargrilling the tomatoes

Chargrilling the tomatoes

Peppers chargrilling on the hob

Chargrilling the peppers on the hob. Otherwise known as making a mess.

14dish

Halloumi, eggs and smoky puy lentils

You can see from the pic below the difference between a fresh free range farm bought egg, and the supermarket free range. The egg with the thicker, more gelatinous white is the fresh farm egg, the one with the thinner is a free range supermarket egg, about a week old, and the one that collapsed at the back of the picture was also a free range supermarket egg – it’s probably about 12 days old.

Eggs comparison - free range and supermarket bought.

The one on the left is the pasture fed freerange egg

Boned Guinea Fowl with a sneaky sauce.

Google Instant delivers search results before you’ve finished typing them. If you start to type ‘how to bone a guinea fowl’ into Google Instant, you get unexpected results by the time you get to “How to bone a gu..”. Some Not Safe For Work. I wonder who the ‘tall guy in the shower’ actually was? And who needed to know the answer?

I needed to look  up the boning process because Tim de boned his guinea fowl without me watching every move – I got a bit squeamish and wandered off whilst he was doing it.

After deboning, he stuffed the bird with some pequillo squash, roasted garlic, onions and thyme.

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For the stuffing

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Guinea Fowl

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Pan frying the guinea fowl

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Pan frying the guinea fowl

Whilst the bird was cooking, he knocked up (is there a theme developing here?) an instant chocolate sauce, using Toblereone. The results were surprisingly good, dark, not at all sweet, with satisfying occasional crunches of nuttiness. He plated up the sliced boned guinea fowl with some cous cous, and melting goats cheese.

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Plated up with cous cous, goat’s cheese and toblerone sauce

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Melting goat cheese and sneaky toblerone sauce to finish