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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

hearts in the South West

Magret (duck breasts) and coeurs de canard (duck hearts) barbequed - what could be better? No marinating, no fuss, just a sprinkling of salt on the breasts and a few fresh bay leaves between the hearts and away you go. Traditionally we serve these cuts with peas, into which we put many slithers of garlic and plenty of ground allspice. Alongside them a glistening plate of peeled potatoes sliced on a mandolin, brushed with melted butter and baked at 180C for one hour. The potatoes benefit from a sprinkling of finely minced garlic and parsley just before serving and most important of all is the orange flavoured sauce, a necessary and delicious accompaniment to anything 'duck'.

I prefer my sauce in this case to have a thin consistency so I simmer it for only about twenty to thirty minutes. Cook it for longer if you prefer it thick.

Ingredients for the sauce:

1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
100ml raspberry vinegar
1x370gm Gelée Bonne Maman Cassis jam
1 orange, juice only
100ml port


Gently cook the onion in the oil under it has softened and becomes opaque. Add the raspberry vinegar and cook until the liquid reduces to almost nothing. Add the jam, the orange juice and the port. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the mixture is thick and reduced to half its original volume. Set aside to cool. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve then transfer it to a small serving bowl and keep warm. The sauce will keep refrigerated for one week.

To cook the meat: Score the thick fat on each breast and rub in a little salt. Thread the duck hearts and fresh bay leaves onto long skewers and rub each one with a little oil.

Both the breasts and hearts are delicious served rare. Set your fire early and burn the charcoal down to the glowing red ember stage. Place the breasts fat side down and slowly cook melting the thick fat during the process but be prepared for flare-ups. We have a barbeque plate especially designed for cooking magret, it is fluted so the fat runs into a central point with an external lip designed to collect the drips in a separate container. Once the fat is reduced, turn each breast over and cook for another four or so minutes. Remove the breasts from the heat, cover to keep warm and rest for five to ten minutes. The duck hearts take about five minutes to cook on each side and must rest before serving.

An alternative way to cook the duck breasts if you are concerned about hot dripping fat is to cook them in a dry frying pan on the cooker until all the fat has melted then finish them off on the BBQ for a few minutes on each side to get that nice BBQ flavour.

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