Rub the duck breasts all over with the first lot of spices, having first scored the skin and put them in a heavy frying pan, skin side down, over a moderate heat. When all the fat has melted, pour it off, and continue cooking the duck breasts, on both sides, until done to your liking. Put to one side. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and when cooked, toss them in a little of the oil, chopped tarragon and coarse sea salt. While the potatoes and duck are cooking, you can also start the vinaigrette. Simmer the wine, vinegar, the second lot of spices, herbs and shallots for 30 minutes or so, reducing by about half. Strain into a clean saucepan, add the cherries and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rest of the olive oil, together with any further seasoning you wish to add.
To serve, place a heap of salad leaves on a platter, and the sliced duck breasts on top. Put the potatoes around the edge of the heap, and pour the hot vinaigrette over the duck. This dish is best freshly cooked, rather than served from the refrigerator.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.