The French Retreat part five. Inability to make decisions leads to Duck Breast, Broad Beans and Tangy Cherry Sauce.

Duck Breast and Plum Sauce (8 of 8)We were blown away by the range, price and incredible freshness of the produce in the French markets we had visited on this retreat. On one such early morning visit, I found myself in a state of some trepidation, wondering what to buy for that evening’s meal. The apprehensiveness was brought on by a decision made about ten hours previously. Saying “Yes” to the voice in my head; “Will I open another bottle of Rosé?” was not a good idea. An excess of wine, no matter how pleasant, is of no assistance to decision-making. I couldn’t make a choice. The lamb looked nice. But, what to have with it? The beef looked lovely. But they cut it in such a strange way. The fish also looked excellent but, which fish? How might I cook it? What would I serve alongside?  Too many decisions.

Would you have left them there at that price?

Would you have left them there at that price?

Hence, when I saw a fantastic big display of burstingly (yes, there is such a word) fresh cherries, I knew it had to be Duck Breast, Broad Beans and Tangy Cherry Sauce. This is really very easy to prepare. First, pop the ‘market fresh’ broad beans out of their shells.

They have to be taken out of their hard casings too. Ideally before cooking.

They have to be taken out of their hard casings too. Ideally before cooking.

Rinse and photograph the cherries.

A nice half kilo of cherries. Washed and photographed on the floor, where else?

A nice half kilo of cherries. Washed and photographed on the floor, where else?

Add two tablespoons of sugar to the cherries (in a saucepan, not in the colander). Heat until the cherries are soft and there is a delicious tangy sauce.

Tangier than a tangy thing doing a tango in Tangtown.

Tangier than a tangy thing doing a tango in Tangtown.

Side note on French markets and cherries: One can buy pretty well anything related to cooking in the average French market. Though I didn’t get one on this trip, I since bought a cherry stoner. (Not a cheery stoner. That’s a hangover from the ’60s). It will feature at a later date, I’m sure. 

Cut some diagonal slices through the fat but not the meat of the huge duck breast.

This is not a small chopping board. The French have big breasts (some of them, that is).

This is not a small chopping board. The French have big breasts (some of them, that is).

Fry the breast, skin side down on a medium heat for 7 minutes without poking or messing around. Turn the meat over and fry for an additional 3 minutes.

That is a large frying pan by the way. No more cheap jokes.

That is a large frying pan by the way. No more cheap jokes.

Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Use the 5 minutes to boil the beans. You should have time to spare. They only need to be warmed through, if they are very fresh. Slice the duck into thin slices on the same lines as the fat cuts. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve with fresh potatoes.

Perfect partners. Duck breast, cherry sauce and a nice punchy St. Emilion red. Perfect partners. Duck breast, cherry sauce and a nice punchy St. Emilion red.

Perfect partners. Duck breast, cherry sauce and a nice punchy St. Emilion red.

I served it with a nice St. Emilion red. Given that we were on holidays, one thing led to another, as it were, and the next day became another decision free zone. That’s what holidays are all about, aren’t they?

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  • I’m in France at the moment, and I too am blown away buy just how much more better and intense the fruit tastes here with regards to where I live (Barcelona). What a beautiful meal you’ve cooked up here!

    • PS sorry, I know it’s incorrect to say “more better”…

      • Thanks Sofia, more better is fine with me. Just as long as it’s so much more better!
        Best,
        C

  • I’m still laughing at the ‘cheery stoner’ line…..

    • Thanks Melissa. I have known a few of them in my time.

  • Those cherries were a steal indeed, Conor. I bet they worked very well with duck breast and fava beans. I recently prepared pigeon with cherries and found it difficult to find a wine that could cope with the sweetness and tanginess of the cherries.

    • The St. Emilion worked pretty well. That Le Loupe was great value and has great fruitiness (and a nice bit of tannin too).

  • I think you’ll find it’s the ducks that have the huge breasts, not the French…. Unless that’s Magret de Femme Française, as opposed to Magret de Canard, of course?

    • Kate, I don’t think I can comment. You are trying to drag me into a mire of double entendres. I do enjoy an occasional one but….

  • Lovely looking meal!

    • Thanks Barb. It was pretty tasty.

      • Are all breasts that big in France? 🙂

        • No comment. The Wife may be reading this!

          • LOL! Have a lovely day! ^..^

  • Ooh la la. What a lovely meal. The first time I had duck was in Scotland and it came with a black cherry sauce. I was hooked!

    • It’s a great combination Virginia. I cooked some pork with cherry sauce recently too. Delicious.

  • I’m with Melissa on the cheery stoner. Still chuckling. Duck and cherries, what’s not to like?

    • Thanks Linda. Now that I have the stoner, I need to get up close and personal with some more cherries. Though, I see they are five times the price over here. That is putting me off.

  • I’m glad I’m not the only who who puts food on the floor to take photos. “Where else?” as you say… Lovely dinner Conor!

    • Most food that goes on our floor gets scoffed by the dog. She is incredibly fast in her reflexes.

  • So simple and beautiful. As for drinking too much wonderful wine and it not helping with decision-making…..I have no experience with that at all. Everything I do while drinking seems like a great idea. No indecision here. Keep pouring.

    • Thanks Amanda,
      Perhaps the best thing to do is to drink into the early hours and then go straight to the market. No difficult decisions then…

  • Duck! Of course. Isn’t it grand how duck is kind in the South-West of France? (oOkay, there are a few goose duchies.) It’s hard to eat poorly in that part of the world, unless you’re a dreadful cook or have an unerring nose for bad restaurants. Ken

    • Too true Ken. It’s hard to come back to Ireland and readjust the fresh produce meter.

  • The St Emilion really aided your wonderful wit: fun to read, kind Sir! Duck and cherries and potatoes . . . great meal . . . I am trying to taste the broad beans on that plate, ’cause the combination is new to me: guess I’ll have to try myself come summer 🙂 !

    • Do that Eha. You will not be disappointed. A nice bottle of St. E helps most situations.

  • Top dinner…..the bottle opening decision often stands between me and complicated decisions….like what to eat. Glad you’re enjoying your time in France….and a cherry stoner is an incontournable as far as kitchen kit is concerned 🙂

    • Opening the bottle does tend to make the other decisions go further into the future as well as making them seem less important. Looking forward to using the stoner.
      Best,
      C

  • if French had a duck with cherry, Chinese with their plum,but we Indonesian keep itwith chillipepper as always, lo

    • Why does that not surprise me Dedy? I think yo use it with everything.
      Best,
      Conor

  • What a fantastic meal, Conor! Restaurant quality, to be sure. We made few decisions during our recent holiday. There was wine with dinner and another bottle at night on the terrace. I don’t remember many decisions — nor anything else for that matter — being reached after the last of the wine was poured. Slept good, though.

    • Slept too good John. Therein lies the problem….

  • How is the beef cut? I am intrigued.

    • They use all sorts of very different cuts. They wrap the fillet in fat. The best cut, to my mind is the ‘cote de boeuf’ I big steak with a rib hanging on the side. There is little wrong with the way they do it. It’s just pretty different.

      • I’ve tried the chicken supreme with the bone hanging out of that (didn’t make much difference to me to be honest) but not a steak with the bone attached…off to the butchers, see what they make of cutting a steak with the bone attached….

        • Sometimes called a Porterhouse. It is over here anyway. They are usually big enough to serve two or three.

          • Oh I’ve tried that. The only problem was that it just looked like a pork chop. Crap M&S. And it didn’t serve one, let alone two or three

  • One of my favorite meals to have during the summer when fresh cherries are in the market. A great choice when there are too many choices to choose from. 🙂

    • Thanks Karen for your ‘choice’ comment.

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