Roast duck breasts with parsnip purée

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Roast Duck Breasts with Parsnip Purée  is a classic dish. The duck breasts used for this recipe are called magrets. This is a duck breast that has been completely removed from the bone and has no wing attached. This breast can then have the skin removed or left on. Leaving the skin on gives a crispy finish. The magret refers to the breast of a Moulard duck that has been reared for foie gras. A Moulard duck is a cross between a Muscovy drake and a Pekin hen, and is a sizable bird with a well-developed breast. It also is the preferred duck used to produce foie gras, because of its large size and hearty constitution.  Magret duck breasts usually come vacuum-packed from France and are ready to cook. If you can’t get magrets, simply roast duck breasts still on the carcass, then remove them from the bone once cooked and rested. 

Ingredients:

4 magret duck breasts

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 teaspoons clear honey
45o g parsnips

5o g unsalted butter

1 quantity cranberry gravy

duck and parsnip puree

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. First score the fat on the duck breasts with a sharp knife all the way across (right to left) about 1-2 mm apart. The fat only needs to be scored and not cut through into the flesh.

Preheat a roasting pan on top of the stove with the oil. Season the scored duck breasts with salt and pepper. Sit the breasts skin-side down into the pan. This will create some spitting from the pan as all water content from the fat will cook out. Once the breasts are cooking fast, turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook the breasts fat-side down until dark and almost burnt. The layer of skin will have cooked right down almost like a confit.

Turn the breasts over and finish in the preheated oven for 6—10 minutes until the flesh is cooked to medium, depending on the thickness of the breast; a large, thick breast will take 8—10 minutes.

Once cooked, the skin will be dark, rich and crispy, almost like duck crackling! This can now be made even tastier if honey is spooned on top and glazed under the grill Before serving the breasts, it’s best to leave them to rest for 5-10 minutes as this will allow the meat to become more tender.

To make the parsnip purée, peel and split the parsnips lengthways into quarters, and cut out the woody centres. Boil in salted water for about 15 minutes until tender, drain and shake dry. Add the salt and pepper and butter and mash the parsnips. Push through a sieve to get a smooth-textured purée. Serve with the cranberry gravy.

The magrets can be left whole or sliced diagonally and arranged on a plate. Serve the parsnip purée separately or shape it between two large spoons to give an oval shape and serve on the plate with the duck. Pour some of the cranberry gravy on to the dish and serve.