Orange and Szechuan pepper duck breast, caramelised chicory and wilted spinach

Serves 2
  • Duck breast x 2, skin scored – remove from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 green chicory, halved longways, base trimmed to neaten
  • 1 pack of puff pastry
  • Dusting of icing sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • 10g demerara sugar
  • 125g freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Pinch Szechuan pepper
  • 1 bag (c.180g) baby spinach
  • 10g red wine vinegar (I’ve suggested the weight rather than volume for accuracy)
  • 100ml ruby port
  • 200ml chicken stock

Method

Preheat your oven to 130C fan/150C electric/gas mark 3

Season the duck well with salt on both sides. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan with a little vegetable oil and fry the duck breasts, skin side down for on a medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, until golden and the fat has mostly melted from under the skin. Turn over for 30 seconds, then return to skin side down, sprinkle with a pinch of the Szechuan pepper and place into the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove. sprinkle a pinch more of the Szechuan pepper on top, and set aside to rest.

Turn the oven up to 200C fan/220C electric/gas mark 6 for the pastry

Meanwhile, cut a piece of puff pastry into a rectangle which will fit the halved chicory head in its 2 pieces, next to each other. Chill the pastry in the fridge on a parchment lined baking tray.

Now braise the chicory. Heat a small ovenproof frying pan with about 1 tbsp vegetable oil, colour the chicory on its cut side until light brown. Turn over and sprinkle over the demerara, then carefully return the cut and sugared side back down into the pan. Fry until evenly golden then add the orange juice. Place directly into the oven and roast gently until just cooked. Remove from the oven and set the chicory aside to cool. Keep the orange juice in the pan.

When the chicory has cooled, arrange the two halves caramelised side up onto the pastry, side by side. Glaze with some of the orange juice from the pan, and sprinkle with a little icing sugar all over. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden.

Meanwhile make the sauce. Add the port and vinegar to the orange juice and reduce by half over a high heat. Then add the stock and reduce to a saucy consistency. Remove from the heat.

In the last 2 minutes, return the duck to the oven to bring the heat back through a little. Add your spinach to a saucepan with a little splash of water and a pinch of salt. Wilt down over a high heat and when cooked, set aside onto a piece of kitchen towel to drain.

To plate, cut the chicory pastry in half and put one piece on each plate. Put the spinach to the side, and carve the duck breast to go on top. Finish with the sauce.