Looking for a lighter main course to offer your guests for your New Year’s Eve dinner party?
Black Beluga lentils are grown on the cool dry plains of North America and are the most delicious type of lentil I’ve ever tasted. Their vibrant black colour and slightly earthy taste make a wonderful contrast with the apricots in my recipe.
Like a lot of ingredients they come into fashion and then disappear off supermarket shelves, Beluga lentils have come and gone before most people have even tried them, which is most frustrating. Beluga lentils are still available in supermarkets in a ready-made form, though I am not a fan of readymade anything so please try to buy your lentils dried and cook them yourself. I really wish clever chemists would stop messing with our food and let people try something naturally. And talking of ingredients, try to buy Gressingham duck breasts if you can because the quality is very consistent. The Gressingham duck is a unique breed that first came about when the small but flavourful wild Mallard was crossed with the larger Pekin duck in 1980 giving a meaty, succulent duck with more breast meat, less fat and a rich gamey flavour.
Ingredients (serves 2 people)
2 x 200g (7oz) duck breasts
Juice from 3 medium oranges
100g (4oz) dried apricots
100ml (3.5floz)cold water
200g (8oz) Black beluga lentils
1 finely diced red jalapeno chilli
5-6 sugar snap peas
2 Tbsp dry sherry
1 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 pitted dates chopped
1/2 chicken stock cube
100ml(3.5floz) Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Score (criss-cross) the skin of the duck breasts, then refrigerate.
- In your food processor combine the orange juice, apricots and cold water and puree until smooth.
- Push the apricot sauce through a fine strainer, pressing it through so the sauce becomes very smooth. Push as much of the pulp through as you can and save any leftover apricot pulp can be saved and used for something else.
- Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small non-stick saucepan until it has a syrupy consistency. Remove the balsamic from the heat and cover the saucepan with clingfilm to prevent further evaporation.
- Rinse the lentils under cold water then drain and recover with twice the volume of water to lentils. Add the stock cube and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the stringy fibre down the sides of the sugar snap peas, then cut them into very small pieces and stir them into the hot cooked lentils.
- Next stir the sherry, chilli, olive oil and dates into the lentils, season with salt and pepper, and cover with a lid.
- Preheat your oven to 19O C (gas mark 5).
- In a hot frying pan brown off your duck breasts on both sides (you don’t need oil because the duck will give off plenty of fat as it is cooks.) Season the duck breasts with sea salt and black pepper as you are cooking them.
- Transfer the duck to the oven and cook for a further 8-10 minutes on the middle shelf.
- Remove the breasts and allow them to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place, whilst you heat up the apricot sauce and lentils.
Use a pastry cutter to shape your lentils into a disc shape on each warm dinner plate. Cut each duck breast into two and place onto the lentils, then spoon the apricot sauce around the lentils. Decorate with a thin ‘lace’ of the reduced balsamic using a teaspoon to drizzle with (or you can make a small piping bag out of greaseproof/parchment paper).
Always place the duck breasts skin down in the pan first, this will bring out some the fat to cook the breasts in.
The duck breasts should still have a little spring when pressed to indicate they are medium-rare to medium.
If you’re thrifty like me stir the saved apricot pulp into you Greek plain yoghurt for breakfast.
Don’t forget to visit my other blogs
Easy & Cheap Student Recipes-A great resource if you are a student or just learning how to cook.
Old Blog Posts– A growing archive of posts from my original food blog, which had 20,922,573 page views from its beginning in February 2006 until December 2015.
© Kevin Ashton 2006-2016
Do not republish my recipes and or photos without express written permission.