I love to cook. My 25 year old self would read that with disbelief. When I ‘grew up’ and moved out I couldn’t cook at.all. I had no desire to cook either. I wanted to go out drinking and dancing and watch whatever trash I could find on television. I wanted to meet friends at the local bar and play pool and drink and sleep until 3pm and do it all over again. I remember the first cake I made- it was raw in the center and instead of making a ganache (what the holy hell was that?!?!) I used Hershey’s chocolate sauce… if you don’t know that’s the stuff you add to milk to make chocolate milk. Julia Child I was not. I then graduated to making pasta dishes with pre-made sauces. I had arrived and my culinary skills were not to be questioned.
What I also am is a bit of a magpie when it comes to cookbooks and over the years I had collected a few. I’d never actually made anything from them because the ingredients would intimidate me. I think the turning point in my cooking history was meeting Wal. I remember one day he wanted to make a curry- a rogan josh to be specific. Now we were living in South Carolina and not a Indian to be found for hundreds of miles and you could just forget about finding a restaurant. What’s a English boy with a craving for curry to do? Pull out his Madam Jaffrey cookbook that he’d carried over from the UK. As you can imagine finding the ingredients were difficult but after a few months we’d collected all the spices we needed and together along with a couple of bottles of wine we did it. I was hooked- on Indian food and I found the confidence to be a bit more adventurous with my cooking. Slowly my confidence as well as my cooking ability increased.
Flash-forward to the other day when Sally challenged me and Ruth from Let Her Eat Clean to a Duck Off! Now I’d only ever made one duck dish and that was duck a l’orange and although it was years ago I remember it was complicated and soo not worth all the trouble. Our challenge was to use store cupboard ingredients. I scoured the internet for easy recipes that didn’t require me buying anything other than the duck. I settled for a peppered duck as I have about 3lbs of peppercorns (hello I’m a Costco bulk buyer). When I got the the grocery store I found that they were all out of duck breast but they did have some already seasoned peppered duck breast. I hemmed and hawed a bit and walked around the shop wondering what to do- would it be cheating if I used the peppered duck? I decided after looking at the ingredients list on the package and comparing it to the recipe I had that it wouldn’t as the Gressingham duck had only natural ingredients and no funky $10 word ingredients. So it was game on!
Gressingham peppered duck breast (two)
I cooked the duck for 2 minutes on high skin side down until I had a nice crust and then turned it down to a medium to low heat for another 5 minutes. I popped the a lid on to keep the steam in and avoid drying out the duck. I turned it over and cooked it for another 5 minutes. I wanted it to be a bit pink in the middle
To accompany the duck I again didn’t want to have to buy anything so I searched the internet and until I found something and I settled on peas (frozen) w/ pancetta and splash of port and some mash potatoes.
I diced an onion sauteed that in a little bit of the duck fat (there wasn’t much and this was a surprise to me as you always assume duck is really fatty but not so!) I threw in the frozen peas, a dash of sea salt and a splash or two of port.
It was AMAZING! Seriously I might have sent Ruth and Sally a message telling them that I had just made what was quite possibly the best meal of my life. The duck was succulent and cooked to perfection and the peas were very moreish.
Wal almost wept when he finished- it was that good! I’m now planning on making duck a more regular part of our lives.
This is NOT a sponsored post or a review- just a couple of friends deciding to have a bit of fun. Now go on and Duck Off!