Duck in Honey Sauce

I remember my mother cooking duck, which she rubbed enthusiastically with salt and honey. The duck was so good that Boris Chaliapin, the son of the great opera singer, espying one left over at the end of the lunch, devoured the lot by way of a savoury. For my mother’s method roast at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 2 hours. This is a variant on the idea.


  • 4 duck breasts
  • 115 g/4 oz butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 85 ml/3floz white wine
  • 85 g/3 oz honey
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 600 ml/1 pint (double) cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


Cut each duck breast into two. Heat 55 g/2 oz butter with the oil in a frying pan and fry the pieces of duck without allowing them to colour. Add the onion and allow to soften. Remove the duck from the pan and keep warm. Pour off any excess fat.

Add the wine to the pan and boil to reduce slightly. Stir in the honey and thyme. Add the lemon juice and cream, and season with salt and pepper. Replace the duck in the pan; cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Remove the duck to a serving dish. Discard the thyme and swirl the remaining butter, in small pieces, into the sauce. Pour over the duck and garnish with fresh thyme.