Pan roasted duck breast with Cherry Garcia sauce

Topsham,Devon November 2, 2003 Ever since I was a boy growing up in the Bay Area I've always enjoyed a duck dinner for my birthday. This seems to have become something of a family tradition now: for the past several years Guy has also had duck on his birthday, and this year (though her birthday is but three days later) our bonfire girl, has already pleaded, "Daddy, can I also have duck?" Of course you can, Bella! My birthday is next month, so that means we'll have at least three slap up duck dinners within this period. That's absolutely fine by me: I'd be happy with duck just about every day of the week.
Today is Guy's birthday, and the sixteen year old has enjoyed sleeping in like a, well, sixteen year old. Kim, meanwhile, has made him his favourite birthday 'cake', her classic tarte aux pommes, with a thin and buttery pâte brisée, the Cox's orange pippin apples glazed with apricot jam and Calvados.
Now as to the duck dinner: frankly, I've been avoiding breast lately as, to my way of thinking, leg is infinitely moister and tastier. But Guy adores breast, pink, preferably with a fruity sauce. So breast it had to be. The inspired novelty this year, however, was the Cherry Garcia sauce. I can hear the gasps of derision. Do you mean Cherry Garcia the ice cream? Yes, I do. You see, this Ben & Jerry's favourite is not actually too sickly sweet, the cherries mix well with the other fruit, while the bits of chocolate when melted and amalgamated, well, they just add certain je ne sais quoi... Believe me, it works! At least Guy loved it (and the boy is a discerning diner).

Pan-roasted duck breast with Cherry Garcia sauce

4 Gressingham or Barbary duck breasts
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbs butter
2 tbs raspberry vinegar
1 tbs sugar
1/3 bottle of fruity New World red such as Californian merlot
100 ml chicken stock
Half a packet of frozen mixed berries
1 good scoop Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees C. First make the sauce. Gently sautée the shallots in the butter for 10 minutes or so until soft but not coloured. Add the vinegar and sugar and simmer for a few minutes, then add the wine and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce by a half. Add the frozen mixed berries and the Cherry Garcia ice cream and cook for a further 10 minutes or so (sufficient to allow the chocolate bits to melt!). Check seasoning and keep warm.
Now cook the duck breasts. Season with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof skillet, add a drop of olive oil and smear it all over the surface. Put on the hob over a high flame and when smoking, add the seasoned duck breasts skin side down. Cook over this brisk heat to crisp and brown the skin, about 5 minutes. Turn over, then immediately transfer to the pre-heated oven. Roast for 10 minutes, remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the duck on the slant, arrange on a plate, and spoon over the Cherry Garcia sauce.
I'd accompany the duck with a similarly irreverent, unpretentious, upfront red, perhaps from Andy Tarry's execellars list: Windy Ridge merlot or a jammy, intensely concentrated Nero d'Avola from Sicily.
Happy birthday, Guy!


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