To make the smoked duck lardons,  ask your butcher to give you some duck skin with the fat attached.

  • Also ask for some duck bones to make the stock.  Alternatively, buy two ducks, cut the legs off to cook another time,  use the four breasts,  use the carcass for the stock and the skin for the lardons.

Finally, it might be worth roasting a whole small butternut squash and using the rest to make a soup or salad with pulses.  This recipe only requires a small piece to cut brunoise  (small dice) from.

Serves 4

For the smoked duck lardons:

  • A large piece of duck skin with the fat attached
  • 2 tbsp fine salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander

For the butternut squash:

For the duck breasts:

  • 4 duck breasts
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

For the parsnip puree:

  • 4 large parsnips, peeled and sliced thinly on a mandolin
  • 500ml full fat milk

For the charred tender stem broccoli:

  • 250g tender stem broccoli
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive  oil for brushing the pan

For the duck, vers juice and honey jus:

  • Duck bones
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-5 pepper corns
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 tbsp vers juice
  • 2 tbsp thyme honey
  • 50g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes


Start by curing and smoking the duck skin to make lardons.

Wash the duck skin and pat dry.   Mix all the curing ingredients and spoon one half of it in a small shallow dish.  Cover the fat with the other half of the cure, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for an hour.

While the fat is curing,  preheat the oven to  180 0 C.

Start by roasting the butternut squash.  Drizzle the slice with 1 tbsp of the  olive oil, season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the thyme and roast until cooked but firm, approx. 40 minutes.     Leave to cool a little, remove the skin and slice so that you can then cut small dice from the flesh.

To make the duck stock,  bring a stock pot to a medium heat. Add the olive oil and chopped vegetables.  Brown the vegetables and add the white wine.  Leave to evaporate.  Add the chicken stock and aromatics and spices and bring to the boil, removing any scum from the top.  Lower the heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes.  The liquid should now be greatly reduced.  Strain and transfer the stock to a clean pan.

Take the fat out of the fridge, rinse and pat dry.  Smoke the duck fat using oak or hickory wood chips  for anything from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of smoker you have and the depth of smokiness you like.    Slice the fat and cut in very small brunoise.

To cook the butternut squash with the lardons, Bring a saucepan to a medium heat.  Add the remaining oil and the cumin seeds.   Give the seeds a stir.  Add the lardons and cook for a couple of minutes until the fat has mostly been released and they look golden.  Add the butternut squash cubes, sprinkle with the vegetable bouillon, add 2 tbsp of water and stir.  Continue cooking until the water has evaporated.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and keep warm.

For the parsnip puree,  put the parsnip into a saucepan with the milk and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and cook slowly until the parsnip is soft.  Drain any residual milk into a cup.   Use a stick blender to make a very smooth puree, adding some of the milk if necessary.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and keep warm, covered with a lid.

To cook the stem broccoli, bring a saucepan with plenty of water and a pinch of salt to the boil.  Add the stem broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Drain and drop into a bowl with icy water.  Leave to cool completely and drain.

Bring the stock to a gentle boil and reduce further if too thin.  Add the verjuice and honey and adjust seasoning.   Add the butter, a cube at a time whisking to incorporate and until you have a glossy jus.  Keep warm or place a piece of plastic wrap on its surface to stop a skin forming and reheat at the point of serving.

To cook the duck, wash the breasts and pat dry. Using a knife make 2-3 incisions in the fat of each breast.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and rub the spices onto the fat too.

Use a large frying pan that fits all four breasts comfortable with space between them.  Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper and place the duck breasts skin side down in the cold pan.  Turn the heat onto low to medium and let the fat render off the breasts while they cook slowly for six minutes.  Turn over and cook for a further 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 6-7 minutes.

While the duck is resting, bring a large griddle pan brushed with olive oil to a high heat.  Add the stem broccoli, season with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper and using a spatula press down to char.  Cook for a couple of minutes, turn over and repeat.

Irini recommends this dish accompanied by the fruity and spicy notes of an Kanenas Red Wine by Tsanalis.

Visit https://irinicooks.com to discover more recipes by Irini.