12 shallots, peeled, trimmed tops & root ends
250ml red wine
200ml chicken stock
1 tsp sugar
1 sprig thyme
Sea salt and black pepper
600g peeled potatoes for mashing
300g frozen peas
2 tbsp double cream
Pinch ground nutmeg
4 duck breasts
1 tbsp local runny honey
Pre heat the oven to 2000C / 400 F / gas mark 6.
Heat half the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the shallots. Cook until lightly golden on all sides. Add the wine, chicken stock, sugar, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Over a fairly high heat, reduce until it forms a glossy liquid which coats the shallots, approx 20 - 25 minutes. The shallots should be tender by now. If the liquid becomes too sticky add a little more red wine or stock. Check seasoning. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Whilst the shallots are cooking, place the peeled potatoes, cut into medium sized pieces, into a pan of boiling salted water for approx 15 - 20 minutes or until nearly tender. Add the peas, bring to the boil and simmer for a further one minute. Drain in a colander, meanwhile return the pan to the heat, melt the remaining butter and add the double cream and nutmeg. Then add the peas and potatoes back to the pan and mash well. Adjust seasoning to taste and keep warm.
Meanwhile, score the skin of the duck breasts in a criss crossed pattern going through the skin nearly to the meat. Place a frying pan on a low heat. Season the duck breasts with sea salt and black pepper and add, skin side down, to the cold pan and slowly heat the duck breasts. This requires no additional oil. Cook for 3 -4 minutes or until the skin begins to crisp. Turn and seal the duck breasts on the meat side for a further 1 minute. Remove them from the pan and place in a small roasting tin and brush the duck breasts with the honey. Cook in the top half of the oven 10 - 15 minutes for pink, 20 minutes for medium basting with the honey mixture as necessary.
To serve, let the duck breasts rest for a couple of minutes. Place a spoonful of mashed potato on a warm plate, slice the duck breast into three or four pieces, and place on top of the mash. Arrange three or four shallots at the side of the duck breast and drizzle with the red wine sauce.
The less water you use when cooking peas, the less vitamin C is lost. Steaming helps to conserve this vitamin.
When boiling frozen peas, add enough water to cover, bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for 3 minutes. To microwave 227 grams (8oz) of frozen peas add 15ml (1 tablespoon) of water, place in a non metallic container and cover. Cook on full power for 4 minutes (750W) or 4 1/2 minutes (650W)