Duck Fillets in Pastry with Leek Sauce

The first magrets de canard (duck breast fillets) I ever ate were in a little restaurant in Paris; they were grilled pale pink, succulent and tender and it seemed to me to be the greatest luxury to be eating just the breast of the duck without struggling to get the meat off the bones of a leg joint. This recipe is another way of using breast fillets. If you like, you can make the rolls without using the fatty duck skin, though it does add extra flavour.

Ingredients

  • 4 duck breast fillets
  • Good handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 5-6 stalks fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 5 cm (2 in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped very finely
  • 1 tablespoon Seville marmalade
  • 250 g (8 oz) packet puff pastry, thawed if frozen
  • 2-3 long leeks, trimmed and sliced thinly (include the green parts)
  • Juice of 1 orange, strained
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
  • 4 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 250 ml (8 fl oz) double cream
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

Pull the skin off the duck fillets and if using, prick each one all over deeply with a fork. Keep on one side. On a large, flat surface lay out 2 large sheets of wet greaseproof paper. Put 2 fillets on each piece of paper spaced well apart. Wet 2 more large sheets of paper and lay them on top. Beat very hard with a rolling pin or heavy flat implement until the fillets have spread out and are as flat as you can get them. Repeat this procedure with the fatty duck skin, beating it out to roughly the same size as the fillets.

Put the herbs, ginger and marmalade in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Season with salt and black pepper. Spread the mixture on to each breast fillet then, roll up fairly loosely like a Swiss roll. Wrap a piece of skin round each roll.

Cut the pastry into 4 equal-sized pieces and roll out thinly until big enough to wrap up the rolled duck breasts. Wrap each duck roll in pastry like a neat parcel, cutting off the excess uneven pieces and moistening the edges of the pastry to seal.

Roll out the trimmings and cut out a leaf or two to decorate each parcel if you like. Pierce a small hole in the top for the steam to escape. Put the parcels in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before you plan to eat.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Put the leeks in a saucepan with the orange and lemon juices and the sugar. Cover and bubble over a low heat for 15–20 minutes until the leeks are soft. Put the leeks and juices in a food processor and whizz until very smooth. Add the cream and whizz again. Lastly season with salt and black pepper. Transfer into a saucepan and keep on one side.

Brush the parcels all over with egg yolk and bake in the centre of a preheated oven, 220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7 for 20-25 minutes until a rich golden brown all over. Reheat the sauce shortly before the duck parcels are ready. Bubble it for 2-3 minutes and pour into a warmed serving jug.

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