Mallard with porcini and red wine

Mallard with porcini and red wine

By
From
My Favourite Ingredients
Serves
4
Photographer
Jason Lowe

With the exception of confit, which I love to eat in the winter, I don’t cook duck all that often. Duck breast, cooked in the usual way, does little for me. However, the young wild ducks that are around in the autumn and early winter are altogether different. Small enough for one, their rich, tender flesh is lovely. Here I’ve matched them with fresh porcini and a simple red wine reduction. You might like to serve them with soft polenta.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 small, young mallards, plucked and cleaned
120g unsalted butter
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
250g fresh porcini mushrooms, (if unavailable used 50 g dried porcini)
1 bottle good-quality red wine, (750 ml)
few rosemary sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Wash the mallards and pat dry. Now spatchcock them: cut down either side of the backbone, then open the birds out and press down with the heel of your hand to flatten. Smear a small knob of butter over the breast of each bird (use two-thirds of the butter) and season generously all over.
  2. To prepare the fresh porcini, carefully scrape away any dirt with a sharp bendy knife, then wipe them over with a damp cloth. Cut them in half lengthways and check there are no worms. Remove any damaged bases from the caps, but do not discard them. (If using dried porcini, soak in hot water for about 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and set aside; strain the liquor through a fine sieve.)
  3. Pour the red wine into a wide saucepan and add the rosemary sprigs and trimmed mushroom bases (or reserved soaking liquor). Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and let bubble until reduced by almost half; strain and set aside.
  4. Place the little ducks in a roasting tray, but don’t overcrowd the pan (use two trays if necessary). Place on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, basting halfway through cooking. This timing will give you beautifully cooked birds, but you can always allow a few minutes longer if you like, or a few minutes less if you prefer the meat rare. Set aside in a warm place to rest while you cook the porcini.
  5. Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the remaining 40g butter. When it is foaming, throw in the porcini and garlic, and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook undisturbed for a minute, then turn and cook on the other side for a couple of minutes. The porcini should have taken on a wonderful colour around the edges. Pour in the reduced wine and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Place a mallard on each warm plate and spoon the porcini and sauce over. Serve at once.
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