Fine dining and fine Tasmanian cider. Sounds like the perfect combination.
2 duck breasts, skin on
10 Tasmanian pepperberries
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, or 1 whole allspice berry
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 medium-sized thin-skinned potatoes
8 cumquats, cut in half, pips removed (optional; the cumquats are really just a garnish)
Steamed greens, to serve
Cherry cider and pepperberry sauce
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1 x 330 ml bottle Pagan Cerise cherry-apple cider
12 Tasmanian pepperberries
A generous knob of good butter
Pat the duck breasts dry with paper towel. Grind the pepperberries, allspice and salt together using a mortar and pestle. Rub the spice mixture into both sides of each duck breast. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, if time permits; bring the duck to room temperature when you’re ready to cook it.
Scrub the potatoes, keeping the skin on. Cut into rounds 1 cm thick. Place in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until just tender, but not falling apart. Gently drain, then pat dry and set aside.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF/Gas 6). Place a non-stick baking tray in the oven to heat up.
Place the duck in a cold, non-stick frying pan, skin side down. (You won’t need to oil the pan – there’ll soon be lots of luscious fat rendering from the duck.)
Turn the heat to low. Leave the duck alone for about 8–10 minutes, or until you have a nice pool of fat in the pan (just check towards the end that it isn’t burning underneath.) Turn the heat to high, turn the duck over and seal the meat side for about 30 seconds.
Transfer the duck to the hot baking tray, skin side down. Roast for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for 4–5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the potato slices to the frying pan and brown them in the duck fat for about 2 minutes each side over medium heat. Season with a little salt, then set aside and keep warm.
Add the cumquats to the pan, cut side down. Cook for 30–60 seconds, until the flesh takes on a caramel hue. Remove and keep warm.
To make the sauce, caramelise the onion in the same pan with the duck fat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft and golden. Deglaze the pan by adding about half the cider and stirring well to make a smooth sauce. Add the pepperberries and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in the butter, and any duck fat from the baking tray.
Taste the sauce and add more cider if needed; check before adding salt as you may not need it. (Now reward yourself with a good slurp of the remaining cider.)
Carve the duck into slices about 1.5 cm thick, on a slight diagonal against the grain; it should still be pink inside.
Pile the potatoes onto warm serving plates. Arrange the duck slices over the top. Spoon the sauce over the duck and around the plate. Scatter the cumquats around.
Serve with steamed greens, and a fine flute of Pagan cherry-apple cider.
With thanks to Emily Dunne. Photography by Nathan Gillam