balsamic glazed duck with cep lentilsrating:
for the cep lentils:
1 tbsp olive oil
225g/8oz pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 leek, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
30g/1oz dried ceps, soaked for ½ hour in 290ml/½ pint very hot water
225g/8oz Puy lentils, washed
375ml/13fl oz red wine
570ml/1pint chicken or vegetable stock
55g/2oz unsalted butter
4 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
225g/8oz baby spinach leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the duck:
2 large Barbary duck breasts
freshly ground sea salt
150ml/5fl oz balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook over a medium heat until it is crispy and has released its natural fats.
add the onion, celery, leek, garlic and carrot and cook for 8-10 minutes.
squeeze dry the ceps and drain the soaking liquor through a piece of muslin, set aside. Roughly chop the ceps and add to the cooked vegetables.
stir in the puy lentils.
add the wine to the lentils with the reserved soaking liquor and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 35-45 minutes or until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has reduced.
meanwhile, score the skin side of the duck breasts in a criss cross pattern, just cutting through the skin and the fat (this helps release the fat). Rub the salt into the skin of the duck breast. Gently heat a large frying pan and add the duck breasts, skin side down. Cook over a low heat for 12-15 minutes, draining the fat as it is released. (Keep this fat as it is fantastic for roasting potatoes.)
brush the flesh side with a little of the duck fat and cook flesh side down for 3-4 minutes then remove from the pan and set aside.
pour the balsamic vinegar into the frying pan and add the honey. Place over the heat and gently reduce by half. Brush the duck breasts with the balsamic glaze, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
stir the butter, parsley and spinach into the cooked lentils and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Place a spoonful of the lentils onto the center of each serving plate. Cut the duck breasts, thinly on the diagonal and place on top of the lentils. Serve immediately.