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I’m starting to think the division into sweet and savoury is completely artificial, perhaps excluding meringues. Virtually all fruit can be used in main course dishes or at least in starters not only in sweets - except olives.
And vice versa: traditional savouries may surprise you. Bacon ice cream aside, I’ve had brie flavoured ice and it was excellent. Blue cheese on roasted fruit is a common enough dessert, especially figs and peaches are gorgeous. Black pepper on strawberries, jam on Gouda, honey on everything. You can even have sour cherry soup and chicken breast pudding. A little sugar in tomato sauce and salted caramel – I rest my case.
Duck is an obvious sweet-savoury fusion material, possibly because the meat is so fatty and rich; it needs to be tamed with something tangy, sweet and fruity. A l’orange, plum sauce, hoisin sauce will spring to mind immediately but I paired it with blueberries and it’s double the winner – the berries create a striking contrast in colour too.
My blueberry sauce is – if I’m being modest about it – simply genius. Rosemary gives just enough of a hint of ‘I’m here for the meat’ flavour and stirring in fresh fruit at the end of cooking ensures it’s berries in the sauce, rather than jam. And any leftovers will be happily spread on pancakes for breakfast.
blueberry duckServings: 1 duck fillet per personTime: about 40 minutes
- 1 duck fillet per person
- salt and pepper
- 400g (just under a pound) blueberries
- 30g (2 tbsp.) dark brown sugar
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- ½ lime
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp. coarse sea salt
1. Score the duck skin with several slashes across, season each fillet with salt and pepper, especially generously on the skin side. Set aside while you make the sauce.
2. Reserve a third of the blueberries and place the rest in a saucepan with half a cup of water. Add the sugar, rosemary, lime quarters and black pepper and bring it to a vigorous boil. Cook it for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid starts to evaporate.
3. Remove the rosemary and lime. Stir the cornflour with a couple of tablespoons of water and add to the sauce. Let it bubble for a second and take it off the heat. Stir in the reserved blueberries.
4. Preheat the oven as high as it will go with a rack in the lowest position. Preheat a cast iron pan on the hob until smoking. Pat the duck skin with a paper towel to make sure it’s completely dry.
5. Scatter the coarse salt over the cast iron pan, place the duck fillets in skin side down and immediately transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Roast for 4 minutes then carefully turn the fillets over and roast for further 3 minutes for medium rare, 4 for medium.
6. Transfer the duck onto a warm plate and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.
7. Slice thickly across and spoon the blueberry sauce over the meat.