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Bittersweet glazed duck breast, crispy polenta, rhubarb

Bittersweet glazed duck breast, crispy polenta, rhubarbThe richness of the duck is complemented by the sweet and sharp poached rhubarb. These contrasting flavours are heightened by the bittersweet glaze whilst the fried polenta adds a crispy finish.

Serves 4
Preparation time: about 1.5 hours


Principal ingredients
  • 4 duck breasts (fillets)
  • salt, freshly ground pepper
Crispy polenta
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml chicken stock
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 150 g instant polenta (yellow cornmeal)
  • 50 g butter
  • 50 ml double cream
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • salt, pepper
  • oil for deep frying
  • 100 g sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 star anis
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 4 sticks rhubarb
Bittersweet glaze
  • 80 ml Campari (or other bitter liquor)
  • 200 ml fresh orange juice
  • 30 g sugar
  • 200 g broad beans
  • 20 g butter
  • baby cress


Crispy polenta: 

In a saucepan, heat milk, chicken stock and bouquet garni for 10 minutes over low heat. Remove bouquet garni, then add 100 g of polenta and cook, whisking continually, until stiff and sticky, about 5 minutes. Add in butter and cream and season using nutmeg, salt and pepper. Turn polenta out onto a sheet of plastic film and roll to create a cylinder shape and allow to cool. Refrigerate until required.


In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, star anis and cinnamon. Simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes, to allow the flavour to infuse. Cut each stick of rhubarb into 3 equal lengths and add to the spiced syrup. Poach until soft but retains its shape, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Bittersweet glaze:

Combine Campari, orange juice and sugar together in a saucepan and reduce until you reach a coating consistency, about 10 minutes. Keep warm until required.


Shell the broad beans. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the broad beans and boil for 2 minutes. Refresh in ice cold water and gently squeeze the broad beans from their skins and discard the skins.

Pan fried duck:

Preheat oven to 200˚C. Season duck breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a large non-stick pan, place duck, skin side down, and cook until the skin is golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the duck over in the pan, transfer to the oven and cook until desired cooking degree, about 10 minutes for medium. Remove from oven, brush the duck breast with some bittersweet glaze and allow to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

Cut the polenta cylinders into 12 small pieces and roll in the remaining dry polenta to coat. Just before serving, deep fry in oil heated to about 185°C until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

To serve:

Heat butter in a small saucepan, add the broad beans and heat through. Re heat rhubarb in its poaching liquid. Once the duck is rested, carve into slices. Place the rhubarb on a plate and arrange the duck slices on top. Position the crispy polenta and the broad beans around. Drizzle the bittersweet glaze and decorate with baby cress.

Wine pairing

Pairing wine with this seasonal dish brings us back to the basics of food and wine matching: Identify the dominating flavours on the plate and act accordingly. In this case, they are the bittersweet of the Campari glaze and the sweet and sour of the rhubarb. This excludes most red wines as tannins would clash with the acidity and most white wines as acidity become gritty and metallic in presence of bitterness. What is required is the soothing effect provided by a little bit of sweetness combined with a rich indulgent fruit. The Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés, Domaine Schlumberger, Alsace, France 2013 is made for our dish. It has enough body to handle the duck and a soft honey palate with just the right amount of residual sugar to react amicably with all the various ingredients. Most Pinot Gris from Alsace tend to have a bit of residual sugar but if you are wary of the wine being too dry, pick one over 4 years old and the acidity will have time to mellow and the fruit to become riper. For an unusual but also rewarding match, you could also choose an Extra Dry Prosecco.

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