A lovely little winter warmer dish, quick and easy to make with winter vegetables:
Parsnip and potato mash with seared Duck breast, served with mixed cabbage stir-fry and sage butter.
Begin by getting the mash under way: peal and clean the potatoes, peal one to 1 1/2 parsnip per diner. Remember to remove the fibrous parsnip core. Dice and put into a pot, add one finger’s width of water and a pinch of salt. Close the lid and steam for approximately 25 minutes until tender. The exact time depends on the size of your dice and potato variety, so check with a spoon or kitchen knife.
Meanwhile, prepare the duck breasts. I use smaller fillets, one per diner: trim the skin by cutting away excess, leaving a nice rectangular piece, which I cut crosswise every 5 mm. Trim remaining fat, sinew or blood vessels.
Clean and cut the cabbage into large pieces. I find a mixture of Savoy Cabbage and Red Cabbage works well, but some Chinese Cabbage left-overs or Cavolo Negro also fit in well enough.
Peel and crush two large gloves of garlic, cut one small bulb of fennel into shavings.
Pre-heat the oven to 160 C.
Meanwhile, finish the mash: drain the excess water, then add a cup of hot milk and a two-walnut sized piece of butter. Whisk with an electric mixer or mash it in the good old way using a masher, then set aside.
Heat a frying pan (one with a fire-proof handle) with a small amount of clarified butter (ghee). Salt the duck skin and sear the breast, skin-side down at moderate heat until the fat is rendered out well and the skin has a nice honey colour. Take your time for this. Now turn the breasts skin side up, transfer the pan into the oven and set your timer for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven after 5 minutes, place the breasts on a board to rest for another 5 minutes at least. Meanwhile…
Heat another frying pan to medium-to-high heat. Melt a spoon full of clarified butter, then add the garlic, fennel shavings and cabbage. Stir occasionally to achieve light caramelization throughout. Add salt to taste when your’ done frying, and never add water.
Finely chop a handful of fresh Sage leaves. Melt a generous amount of butter (say, 50 g per diner), heat it up until it is foaming but not yet browning. Quickly fry the sage leaves and remove from the heat.
Assemble with the mash in the centre of the plate, the sliced breast on top, surrounded with cabbage stir-fry. Drizzle the sage butter generously over the cabbage. Done!