We often buy a whole duck and then break it down for several meals. By doing it this way, we are also able to have a good supply of duck stock and duck fat (for roasting). Even if you are just buying the duck breast you can still keep the rendered fat for a future date. Just strain it and then once cool, freeze.
The first task is cooking the wheat berries. 1/2 a cup requires about 1 3/4 cups of water and a good pinch of salt. Cook uncovered on a low heat until all the water is absorbed and the berries are tender. As a tip, we always make extra then we have some made for salads later on in the week.
Next we took some of our frozen duck stock and added some celery (we always keep this packed in the freezer for stocks), two star anise, one lemon and one orange (zest the orange). Note: only use the segments so there is no pith as this can make the sauce bitter. Add one sprig of lavender from the garden (dried lavender works also). Add a good splash of sherry and a couple of peppercorns.
Then we add some wonderful Atkins and Potts Lavender Syrup. This is a product from the UK (for more details click here: Atkins & Potts) . Then simply simmer to infuse all the flavors before straining and reducing until it thickens.
Preheat your oven to 350f then peel and slice carrots and slice cauliflower florets. Keep the cauliflower slices fairly thick so they will not fall apart during the roasting. Melt a little duck fat in a large pan or roasting tin, and then toss in the carrots and cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper then roast until the carrots are tender and the cauliflower begins to brown.
With a sharp knife, cross hatch the fat on two duck breasts, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Then cook in a frying pan skin side down on a medium heat. Once the fat has rendered and the skin has crisped up, flip over and finish in the oven. This will only take about four minutes although we cooked it a little further as the children prefer it closer to medium well. The critical thing to prevent duck being tough (a common criticism) is to ensure that it rests for a good 15-20 minutes.
Whilst the duck rests and the vegetables roast, thinly slice a radish and place in ice cold water so it does not dry out. Take a cup of frozen (or blanched fresh) peas and the pour hot water over to defrost. Place in a blender with a good glut of olive oil, a pinch of salt and white pepper and then blend to a puree.
Create a bed of the wheat berries and then add the carrot, cauliflower and a little of the pea puree. Add the slices of radish for color, crunch and peppery freshness.
Finally, trim and slice the duck breast and place on the plate and then drizzle around the reduced sauce.
Despite the initial five or ten minutes of complaining that “we don’t like duck….we don’t like cauliflower…” this turned out to be a truly delicious meal that our kids ended up loving… especially the duck fat roasted cauliflower. More often than not they take a few minutes to come around and then finish their plates entirely saying “Oh…I guess I do like that!”