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Pan-Fried Magret on Garlic Mash and Pak Choy with a Three Citrus Jus

This recipe comes from Chef Jim Fisher who now runs cooking holidays in the Dordogne.

If you would like to know more about Jim and how he gained his love of cooking why not have a look at his biography page <click here>

To find out more about the cooking holidays in France at Jim's cooking school in the Dordogne you will need to visit his web site <click here>

The duck, in culinary terms at least, seems to be very misunderstood, and thus a sadly underrated bird. Not all that surprising I suppose since many people of a certain generation - and here I include myself - were introduced to it back in the 1970s, a - some would say - misguided epoch when no self-respecting restaurant menu would be seen without the ubiquitous 'Duck à l'Orange'. This invariably over-cooked, fat-oozing old mallard coated in a sticky over-sweet marmalade-like sauce simply was duck for many people.

Well, having survived that era's 'exciting' flavour experiments (and even more lurid fashions) here we are, snugly making ourselves at home in a new whiter-than-white millennium, looking back on those heady days with fond memories, just 'knowing' we can still fit into that brown paisley drip-dry shirt and pair of purple brushed cotton 'Lionels' - damn, if only I could find them . . . !

Anyway, I digress. Here in the Dordogne the duck is truly a prince of birds (it would be king but for the rather more stately - and expensive - goose). There is not a single restaurant around these parts that would be seen dead without duck on its menu in one form or other, often deliciously served with Pommes Sarladaises (potatoes fried in duck or goose fat) or foie de canard (engorged duck liver). But, however mouth-watering and extravagant these famous recipes are, duck does sometimes need a little bit of an acerbic hitch-up to help people cope with its inherent richness.

Now this, of course, is what those 70s chefs were trying to do by embracing so totally a dish like duck a l'Orange, the hope being that the sauce would do the job. However, these days I think a slightly lighter touch is needed for our rather more perspicacious palates.

So, to replace that cloying orange sauce: a lighter and slightly more complex jus using a trio of citrus fruits; oranges, lemons and limes (lime, by the way, has to be one of the most under used of the citrus fruits, though it possesses an incredibly piquant and sensuous aroma - use it in curries, sorbets, for curing raw fish as in ceviche, Thai dishes, lime tart, sorbet . . . the list is endless).


4 magret, skin on
300 ml (10 fl oz.) chicken stock
1 glass dry white wine
1 tsp. soft brown sugar
50 gr (2 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 1cm (1/2 in.) cubes
1 - 1½ kg (2 - 3 lbs.) potatoes
100 gr (3 - 4 oz.) unsalted butter
6 un-peeled garlic cloves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
12 leaves pak choy
dark soy sauce
the grated zest, and juice of:
    1 lime
    1 lemon
    1 orange


  • Place the juice and grated zest of the fruit in a saucepan along with the chicken stock, wine and sugar, then simmer for twenty minutes or so, or until reduced by about two thirds.
  • Away from the heat, whisk in the butter until the sauce gains a silky gloss, then season with sea salt.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into even-sized chunks. Bring to the boil in plenty of salted water, along with the un-peeled cloves of garlic. Simmer gently until the potatoes are tender. Drain, reserving the garlic which, at this point, will be soft and squidgy.
  • Mash the potatoes well, then squeeze in the garlic from their skins, like toothpaste. Stir in the butter, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Lightly score the skin of each duck breast in a lattice pattern, and sprinkle each side generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring a frying pan to a medium-high heat and smear with a little oil. Place the breasts flesh-side down in the pan and fry for one minute only, then flip them over and continue to cook for about 6 - 8 minutes, by which time the skin will be golden brown and crisp, and the pan will have filled with a veritable lake of duck fat.
  • Remove the breasts to a baking tray, then cover with foil and as many tea towels as you can spare, then leave them alone for at least ten minutes - this resting is essential as it allows the cooking process to finish and the meat to relax.
  • Rinse the pak choy under running water and shake dry. Add a little olive oil to the pan and throw in the pak choy, stir-frying it for a minute or so until just wilted. Dress with some dark soy sauce.
  • Cut each breast into 5 or 6 slices and serve fanned out on top of a good dollop of garlic mash topped with the pak choy, then pour the sauce around.

The 1970s? Eat your heart out!

Serves 4

Chef Jim Fisher