Wild duck goes very well with lots of different fruit and spices. I like to use peaches, which you should still be able to find in early fall when wild duck comes into season. If possible, you want meat from a female, which is generally more tender a male’s. I also like to use whole spices rather than ground, but don’t overdo the spices, or they will be overpowering.
– PREPARATION TIME 15 minutes, plus making the stock.
– COOKING TIME 40 minutes.
– ½ cup sugar.
– 1-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken.
– 4 unripe peaches.
– 4 duck breasts, preferably wild, thawed if frozen..
– 2 pinches roasted, crushed Szechuan peppercorns.
– 4 tablespoons sunflower oil.
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter.
– 1 shallot, chopped.
– 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar.
– ½ cup Chicken Stock.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F. Season both sides of the duck, then sprinkle the Szechuan pepper over the skin. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and when it starts to shimmer, add the duck, skinside down, and cook 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn the duck over and put the pan in the oven 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and put the duck in a small baking sheet, then cover and leave to rest 5 minutes. Reserve the fat and turn the oven up to maximum.
Step 3: Meanwhile, put the cleaned sauté pan over medium heat. Add half the butter and the peaches and cook 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are lightly colored. Remove them and leave to one side on a plate. Add the cinnamon and ½ cup of the reserved poaching syrup to the pan. Cook over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes until the syrup just starts to turn a caramel color, then return the peaches and toss to coat them in syrup, Remove the pan from the heat, cover with foil and leave to one side.
Step 4: Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the duck pan and return it to medium heat. Add the shallot and cook 5 minutes until soft, then pour in the sherry vinegar and deglaze the pan by stirring to remove any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring, about 5 minutes until it reduces by half. Add the remaining butter and swirl the pan to combine and make a shiny sauce. Add the juices from the rested duck, cover and leave to one side.
Step 5: Reheat the duck in the hot oven 2 minutes. If the peaches have cooled, warm them through. Cut the duck brasts in half lengthwise, Pour the peach juices into the sauce and bring it quickly to a boil. Serve the duck surrounded by the peaches, with the sauce spooned over the top.