The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Boulestin’s duck with brandy, claret & Port

The method for cooking the duck is simplicity itself. Toss some legs in a hot oven and roast for twenty minutes or so. The sauce makes the dish: Old School Anglo-French and none the worse for that. For two; may be doubled.


  • Ducks.jpg2 duck legs (better) or 1 breast
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour (preferably Wondra)
  • 1 shot brandy
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Port (see the Notes)
  • 4 Tablespoons duck stock (see the Notes)
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  • generous squeeze lemon juice
  • another Tablespoon--this time cold--unsalted butter cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 425°

  1. Prick the skin of the duck all over with a butchers fork, generously season the meat all over and roast it for about 20 minutes: Drain (and keep for other uses) the fat after 10 and again after 15 minutes. You may vary the time depending on how well done you like your duck.
  2. Make the sauce. Start by melting the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste.
  3. Quickly whisk the red wine, Port and stock into the roux, bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to low.
  4. Once the sauce has reduced to half its original amount, dump the brandy into the saucepan and reduce again to the amount of sauce you had before adding the brandy.
  5. Once the duck is done, pour off the fat and scrape any debris from the bottom of the roasting dish, then add the debris to the sauce.
  6. Stir the cream and lemon into the sauce and reduce it again until it thickens to the consistency of heavy cream.
  7. Fold the cold cubes of cold butter into the sauce, strain it and serve it with the duck.

Notes:

- The original recipe, at least as reproduced from an undisclosed source by the Firuskis in The Best of Boulestin, is incomplete. It instructs the reader, for example, to roast the duck “so that it is only partly cooked” but never follows up to complete the process. Tawdry editing.
- The Editor likes the relatively dry and tannic tawny Ports; ruby, however, would be fine.
- If you do not keep a cache of duck stock lying around, veal or beef will do.
- If you like bacon, it and duck make fast friends, so throw a slice atop each leg.
- In connection with a similar recipe for duck, Boulestin sounds adamant, and also accurate: “The only possible vegetable with this dish is potatoes in some form, soufflées, sautées, Anna or Macaire” or, we think simply roasted in duck or goose fat. You would, however, also like something green, and peas are traditional to pair with duck for good reason.