Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Christmas eve dinner party: Crispy duck with plum sauce

on December 30, 2011

I did a dinner party for Christmas eve for my friends who were staying for a few days.  I was actually more excited about doing this than Christmas day because it was something different and Christmas day is really just an elaborate roast dinner.  Probably why I wasn’t so focused on it and it definitely could have been better!

But the dinner party was delicious.  I did the mussels in white wine sauce for starter, crispy duck in a plum sauce for mains and tarte tatin for dessert.  The starters and dessert I’ve already blogged about and you can find them here:

https://mrsjacksoncooks.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/food-favourite-moules-frites-or-mussels-chips/

https://mrsjacksoncooks.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/autumn-pudding-perfection-tarte-tatin/

I made the mussels without fries this time  as they were a starter and served with pittas (as that’s all I had!) but a french baguette would be nicer I think!  I think the three courses worked really well together despite being inspired by different continents – because it was very much a fusion menu.  And it seemed very luxurious without being too much to eat.  The tarte tatin was beautifully caramelised and perfect after the rich and sweet duck.  And everyone just loved the mussels.  They were a perfect light and not too filling starter.  I did 1.5kg between 4 of us.

The duck was just delicious, if a little undercooked!  I did it for the stated time but because our duck breasts were very thick they needed an extra 3-4 minutes and they were still very pink. They were also quite large so I did half a breast per person and served with creamed cabbage.   Normally I’m not a huge fan of cabbage and neither was anyone else at the table but one arrived in my Christmas vege box and there were loads of recipes suggesting it with duck so I thought I’d give it a go.  And actually everyone loved the cabbage – creaming it with creme fraiche gives it a totally different flavour and texture which was very tasty.

The duck recipe came from here http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/crispyduck_89265

And the cabbage from here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/duckwithpotatocreame_80882

I didn’t serve with any carbs as it was a three course meal and I thought we were probably already eating enough.  But you could easily add some mash or some haselback (hedgehog) potatoes.  Or even just some steamed baby potatoes.

Crispy duck with plum sauce and creamed cabbage

Serves 5-6

  • 6 small duck breats, or 3 large ones with skin on
  • 4 tbsp Groundnut, sesame, or sunflower oil

For the marinade:

  • 10cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 tbsp shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 4 tbsp schechuan peppercorns, ground
  • 9 star anise
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • For the sauce:
  • 5 plums, quartered and stones removed
  • 100g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 5 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • juice of 2 limes

For the cabbage:

  • 1 savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • knob of butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche (you can used reduced fat)
  1. First, put all the marinade ingredients in a shallow dish, mix well to combine.  Add the duck breasts spooning over the marinade so all sides are covered.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade for about 25 minutes.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Put the plums, apricots and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the sugar, honey, cinnamon and star anise.  Cook on a medium simmering heat until its reduced to a sticky sauce.
  5. Whilst the sauce is reducing, make the cabbage.
  6. Blanche the cabbag and carrot for a couple of minutes (ie boil for a short period of time) and drain.
  7. Heat the butter in a pan.  When it’s melted and bubbling, add the cabbage and carrot and stir fry for a few minutes.
  8. Add the creme fraiche and season to taste.  Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce.  Keep warm.
  9. Your duck should now be marinaded.  So heat the oil in a wok or frying pan until its smoking hot.
  10. Place the duck skin side down in the oil and cook for about 4-5 minutes on a very high heat until the skin is crispy and burnt.
  11. Turn the duck into a baking dish or pan skin side up and put in the oven for about 4 minutes (this will do small breast pink) to 6 minutes (more well done) or about 9 minutes (pink) to 11 minutes (well done) for large breasts.  (When they come out, it’s the perfect time to shove in the tarte tatin!)
  12. Serve with a cabbage bed on the bottom, the duck on top, skin side up and topped with the plum sauce
  13. Enjoy with a nice bottle of red wine 🙂
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