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16th January 2024 - Aaron Bulging
Culinary Masterclass - Fowl Play
Pan-Seared Duck with Roasted Plums and Sautéed Potatoes.
In which Aaron walked us through jointing a duck, using the carcass pieces to make a rich wine jus, and preparing the breasts for pan-frying.
Served with simply sautéed potatoes.

To joint a duck or chicken into 4 pieces: Although Duck with plums, or plum sauce, is more commonly associated with Chinese cookery, Europe has a long history of pairing duck with fruit, (possibly as a means of preservation) going back as far as the 16th Century Court of the Medicis who were rather partial to pàparo all'arancia - a dish later appropriated by the French and made their own in the form of canard à l'orange.
Which of course the British then got to properly rename duck a l'orange.

So this dish is like that. But with plums.

Duck à les Plums
Pan-Seared Duck with Roasted Plums
A fruity duck.
Pan Jus
Waste not, want not gravy.
Sautéed Potatoes
Child's play!

Pan Seared Duck with Roasted Plums
main fowl
This dish roasts plum halves - giving the cut surface a nicely caramelised finish, but they are rather chunky.
As an alternative you could slice the plum halves and fan them out when serving with the similarly sliced duck.
You know, for style points.
Though you might want something on your plate that isn't just brown 🙄.

Serves 2

Trim the duck breasts - removing any tendons or papery silverskin from the flesh side and tidying the skin.
Cut a diamond pattern into the skin without cutting into the flesh underneath.
Aaron is firmly against salting the skin. He seems to be in a serious minority there though.
Personally I like salting the heck out of it, which really enhances its flavour.
Incidentally - when salting, do so from a great height or distance so that the salt gets evenly distributed over your target surfaces.
Halve the plums and remove the stones.
If the plums are ripe, they should pop out easily.
Heat a frying pan, lightly oil it, then place in the plum halves cut-side down. Fry until they take on a nice colour, then scatter over the sugar and cook until it caramelises, without burning.
Add a splash or two of water and the rosemary and bubble until the water is absorbed, then add a large knob of butter and baste the plums until they're cooked through.
Tender, but not soft.
Turn the plums cut-side up and leave in the buttery caramel until ready to serve.
Feel free to perk up the plums (or the sauce you'll be using) with a dash of star anise, or Chinese five-spice powder.
Meanwhile place the duck breasts skin-side down in a cold dry frying pan and put over a medium heat.
Allow the skin to render and nicely brown while the flesh cooks about half-way through, pouring off excess fat as you go.
Turn the breast over, add a fat knob of butter, some herbs and garlic too, if you like, then baste, baste, baste until the breast is cooked through.
Leave to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and garnishing with minced chives (if you like) to serve.
Good duck!

Pan Jus
fowl sauce
Basically an enhanced quick duck stock. If you don't feel like making a stock after you've just jointed a bird, freeze the carcass pieces and do it later.

Serves 2

Heat the bits of chicken carcass in a dry saucepan until it colours. Turn the pieces and repeat.
Roughly chop the vegetables and add them to the pan. Allow them to caramelize too.
De-glaze the pan with the wine and reduce it by half to cook off the alcohol, leaving only the sweetness of the wine.
Add the beef stock paste and the water.
Obviously ideally you'd have some stock you made earlier.
Reduce this again by half then pass through a sieve into a clean pan.
Skim off any oil or fat and reduce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon or you can drag a line through it.
Set aside until required.
As mentioned above, if you're serving as a sauce with plum duck, you could throw in a star anise with the vegetables, or brighten the sauce at the end with a pinch of Chinese five-spice.

Sautéed Potatoes
side staple veg vegan
Serves 2

Par-boil the unpeeled potatoes until tender but not soft. About 10 minutes.
Drain them and allow them to steam dry, then halve them lengthways.
Oil a frying pan and scatter with salt. Place the potatoes in cut-side down and fry until golden. You can add a knob of butter to enrich them now if you like.
Set aside until required.