Some meals are so beautifully delicious, they stick in your head for years to come. This is such a recipe. A delectable balanced combination of truly French ingredients makes this dish an absolute must-have in your repertoire if you plan to impress.
Smoked duck & lentils with lavender
For the crystallised orange
- 1 large orange washed and scrubbed
- 2 tbsp caster superfine sugar
For the smoked duck
- 100 g/3½oz/½ cup basmati rice
- 3 tbsp green tea
- 1 tsp caster superfine sugar
- 2 small lavender sprigs
- 1 tbsp rapeseed canola oil
- 2 duck breasts about 200g/7oz each
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- A few chervil leaves
For the lentils
- 200 g/7oz/1 cup Puy lentils picked over and rinsed
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves
- 1 bouquet garni made with 1 thyme sprig and 1 parsley sprig, tied together with kitchen string
- 50 g/1¾oz unsalted butter
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To crystallise the orange zest, pare the zest from the orange into ne strips using a peeler or small, sharp knife, taking care to cut away the pith. Put the zest in a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat, drain, refresh under cold water, then drain again. Repeat this blanching process.
- Return the zest to the pan over a low heat and add the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water, stirring until dissolved. Raise the heat to medium and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 4–5 minutes, or until the zest becomes transparent. Remove from the heat and leave the strips to cool in the syrup.
- Put a large piece of kitchen foil, shiny-side down, in the bottom of a wok or steamer. Add the rice, tea, sugar and 1 lavender sprig, and drizzle with the rapeseed (canola) oil. Cover with a wire rack or steamer insert and lid, and put over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to smoke. Quickly put the duck breasts inside, cover with kitchen foil to help seal the duck, then put the lid on, turn the heat to low and smoke for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Add the onion, cloves and bouquet garni, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5–7 minutes until only just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then strain, discarding the flavourings.
- When the duck is almost ready, heat a non-stick frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat. Turn off the heat under the smoker and lift out the duck. Put the duck, skin-side down, in the frying pan and cook for 4–5 minutes. Flip the duck over, brush the skin with the honey and sprinkle over a little of the remaining lavender, then cook for 5 minutes. Lift out, cover with foil and leave to rest.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan (skillet) until hot add the butter and lentils and stir-fry for a few minutes until hot.
- Cut the duck into chunks and serve on top of the lentils, sprinkled with the orange zest strips with a little of the syrup, the chervil leaves and a pinch more lavender.
Extracted from France Today Magazine.
Originally from French Countryside Cooking by Daniel Galmiche (Nourish).
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