King castle

Irish duck dish fit for a king

At Ashford Castle we try to work with as many Irish producers as possible, but you can substitute any of the ingredients with what is available to you. This is a classic winter dish for a special occasion, bursting with Irish flavors to put a smile on your face during the cold winter months and the perfect start to start the Christmas spirit.

Eugene and Helena Hickey started raising ducks in the late 90s, continuing Eugene’s family tradition. I appreciate Skeaghanore ducks because they are raised not too far from the sea, near Roaring Water Bay in West Cork, where the salty air and green pastures affect the texture of the duck, giving it a salt marsh flavor.

Achill Island sea salt, Ballymakenny potatoes and Garryhinch mushrooms feature regularly on my menus; the products are full of flavor and the families behind the products work with great ethics. I recently tried the Drummond House scape sauce and I find it a nice addition to my dishes.

Philippe Farineau is Executive Chef at Ashford Castle in Cong, Co. Mayo.

Skeaghanore duck breast, beets, mashed potatoes and mushrooms

For 4 people

Ingredients

4 Skeaghanore free-range duck breasts
600g mayan rose potatoes from Ballymakenny farm
200g butter
3 tablespoons Drummond House Garlic Flower Sauce
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 red apple, diced
1 cinnamon stick
6 juniper berries
1 bottle (500 ml) medieval Highbank cider
8 Asselback An Garrai Glas beets, (miniature beets), peeled
250gr of Garryhinch Maitake mushrooms (hen of the woods)
150gr of fresh cream
Newgrange rapeseed oil
Achill Island Sea Salt

Method

1 Peel the potatoes and simmer or steam until cooked. It will take about 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, it is important to drain the potatoes well and remove as much moisture as possible. Make sure you don’t overcook them either, as they’ll be too wet to mash. As you mash the potatoes, add the garlic scape sauce, a knob of butter and a little salt.

2 For the sauce: Sweat the shallots slowly in a drop of oil, add the cinnamon stick, juniper berries and diced apple for a few minutes. Add the dry cider and reduce the sauce by half. Add the cream and reduce it to half again. When your sauce is ready (not too runny and not too creamy) use a spoon to scoop out the cinnamon and juniper berries.

3 For the beets: Peel the beets and cut them into slices without cutting them completely to the end, as you would for a hasselback potato. Sprinkle with rapeseed oil and sea salt. Bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes. It may take longer, depending on the size of the beets. The tips of the beets should be crunchy while the middle is still soft and sweet.

4 For the duck: Mark the skin of the duck a little so that it is crispy when cooked. Rub the skin with salt and leave for 15 minutes; the salt will remove some of the moisture and you will have a crispier skin.

5 Heat a pan, add a little oil and place the duck skin down. Cook the duck over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the skin is golden and crisp, then turn the duck flesh side down for about eight to 12 minutes depending on the quality of cooking desired. Rest the duck for three to four minutes before carving it up.

6 For the mushrooms: While the duck is cooking, brown the mushrooms in a little oil, salt and add a spoonful of garlic scape sauce at the end. Cook for five to six minutes over medium heat.

7 To serve: Cut the duck breast in half lengthwise. Pour the sauce on the plate and place the duck on the sauce, add two beets and some mushrooms. Don’t pour the sauce over the duck as you want to keep the skin as crispy as possible. Serve the rest of the sauce in a gravy boat. Serve the mash on the side.

Kitchen Cabinet is an Irish Times Food Month recipe series from Euro-Toques Ireland member chefs in support of food producers in Ireland. #ChefsMeetProducers.