“Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it.”
Danny Kaye, American Actor, 1911-1987
I enjoy cooking on holiday. Whilst some may say it is a ‘busman’s holiday’, I think there is nothing better than creating wonderful food for your family. There is no pressure, whether it turns out great or is burnt to a crisp, it’s the fact that I can try out new recipes in deliciously, luxurious locations. And this is my philosophy. Just have fun. I love nothing better than to organise a pool party, a murder mystery night or an awards evening; infused with fabulous food.
And we always dine out one evening to give the family chefs the night off. In the summer of 2017, when stayed in St Catherine-de-Fierbois, Loire Valley, we dined at L’Auberge Jeanne d’Arc, run by Karine et Sylvain Goussal. It is one of the best kept secrets in France. It is here where I tried their duck breasts and now I love them! The impassioned Joan of Arc passed through St Catherine-de-Fierbois on her way from Chinon to Tours, finding a battle sword behind the church’s altar. It’s a pity the restaurant wasn’t there in 1429, as she would have loved their food too!
4 x 200g (7oz) duck breasts, skin on * 2 tsp salt * 2 tsp ground cinnamon * 4 tsp demerara sugar * freshly ground black pepper * 250ml (8 floz) red wine * 150ml (5 floz) crème de cassis * 1 tbsp cornflour * 255g (9oz) raspberries, washed and left whole
Score the duck breasts through the skin and fat. Heat a frying-pan and fry the duck breasts, skin side down, until the skin browns. Lift the breasts out of the pan, then tip away most of the fat. Mix together the salt, pepper, cinnamon and demerara sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle over the skin of the duck breasts and press in.
Re-heat the frying-pan and cook the duck breasts, skin side up, for 10-15 minutes. Lift out of the frying-pan and leave to rest on a carving board. Pre-heat the grill. Meanwhile, mix together the red wine and cassis in a jug. Pour about 90ml (3 floz) of the liquid into a small bowl and mix in the cornflour or arrowroot, then pour this back into the jug. Pour the excess fat out of the frying-pan to leave about 2 tablespoons. Return the pan to the heat and pour in the red wine and cassis. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened. Add the raspberries and simmer for another minute, to warm the fruit through. Grill the duck breasts, skin side up, for a minute, or until the sugar starts to caramelise. Slice the duck breasts, pour a little sauce over the top and serve the rest separately in a jug.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
This recipe comes from the section THE FRENCH CONNECTION, a selection of authentic French recipes.
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