Brined Pan-Fried Duck Breast With Oranges

Lightly brining any meat, really changes not only the flavour, but also the texture. Basically it is an osmotic process, simply put, this means the water is sucked out of the cells in the meat and replaced by the sugar and salt in the brine. It’s what happens when pork is turned into bacon, it’s a real flavour difference.

Brined Pan-fried Duck BreastIngredients

  • Brine
  • 4 medium duck breasts with skin, lightly scored
  • 60g sugar
  • 30g salt
  • 600mls water

for the sauce

  • 2 large oranges
  • 200mls fresh orange juice
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 50mls cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp orange zest, taken off with a peeler, then cut into very fine strips
  • 300mls strong, gluten-free chicken stock
  • salt
  • freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp cold water

Method

  1. First, make the brine. Place the sugar, water and salt together into a saucepan. Heat slowly over a low heat, then bring to the boil. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, set aside to cool.
  2. Once cooled, pour the brine into a measuring jug and bring the total volume back with a little cold water.
  3. Pour half the brine into a small, dish. Place the breasts in the dish so they are nice and snug. Pour over the rest of the brine. Cover and leave for 20 minutes, no more.
  4. Next, place the orange juice, caster sugar, cider vinegar, orange zest and stock into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the volume has reduced by about two thirds.
  5. At this point, taste, if you have a really nice balance of acidity, and orangey sweetness then its ready. Bear in mind, the longer you reduce the sauce, the deeper the flavour will be.
  6. In a small bowl or cup mix the cornflour with 3 tablespoons of cold water, then add a little of the paste at a time to the simmering sauce, just to thicken slightly. Do not over-thicken or the sauce will be horrible.
  7. Season well with salt and pepper.
  8. When the sauce is ready, rinse the duck breasts off well under cold water, then pat really dry with kitchen towel.
  9. Place scored side down into a hot non-stick frying pan. The skin will crackle straight away, and the fat will start to come out of the skin. After 4-5 minutes, turn over, and continue to cook for a further 4-5 minutes.
  10. Once cooked, remove from the pan, then place on a warm plate, cover with foil. Leave for 10 minutes, to rest; this will ensure a soft, moist texture to the beautifully pink breast.
  11. To serve, slice the breasts on a slight angle, drain well on kitchen paper, and place onto a large plate. Top with a few orange segments, and spoon over the sauce.
  12. Serve with mashed potatoes and a few peas – delicious!

Tips

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