Why do we only eat duck every now and then?  Because we have to keep some things special……some things outside the ordinary to make them extraordinary.  This my friends,  will have your dinner party guests in a state of nirvana.  After the first bite of this aromatic crispy  duck, they will think they have died and gone to heaven!

(I have categorised this as bordering on expensive, however I think that for a special occasion approximately $35-40 for duck breasts is actually not too bad considering you would pay that and more for one serve in a restaurant. This is restaurant quality, people, make no bones about it!)

Prep time:   30 mins          Cooking time:  30mins      $$$  Bordering on expensive but so worth it

Serves 4

1 tbs of peanut oil

4 duck breasts, skin on

2 tsp of chinese 5 spice

1 tsp of sea salt

0.5cm piece of ginger, halved and sliced into thin matchsticks

1 stalk of lemon grass, white part only, bruised with the back of your knife

1 tbs of red curry paste

400ml tin of coconut cream (light if you prefer)

2 tbs of fish sauce

1/2 tbs of brown sugar

juice of 1/2 a lime

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 long red thai chilli, finely sliced (seeds removed optional)

1 cup of coriander leaves

Steamed jasmine rice, lime wedges and baby bok choy to serve

Pre heat the oven to 180°C

To prepare the duck breasts, lightly score the skin at 1cm intervals on the diagonal being very careful not to slice into the flesh.  Pat the breasts dry with paper towel.  Place the 5 spice and sea salt in a mortar and pestle and grind until the salt has broken down.  Sprinkle evenly over the duck breasts and then rub right in so they have a fine powdered coating.  Set aside.

Heat a medium sized saucepan, add the peanut oil and lightly fry the ginger, lemon grass and one third of the chilli.  Add the curry paste and fry for a further 60 seconds before pouring in the coconut cream.   Season with the fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar and stir well to combine.  Allow to simmer on a very low heat for 10 minutes.

Heat a large ovenproof*  frypan slowly but until it is really hot.  Place the duck breasts skin side down and fry for 4 minutes.  Make sure your pan is super hot.  You won’t need oil, the fat will render out of the duck and give you the perfect crispy skin.  Turn after four minutes and fry for 1 minute on the other side. then place in the oven for a further 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place on a carving board to rest for 4 minutes.  The duck will be cooked medium – medium rare.  If you like it well done just cook for an extra few minutes in the oven and rest for a few more minutes.

While the duck is resting, roll up the kaffir lime leaves into a tight little wad, finely slice with your knife and add half to the curry sauce.  Grease a small ramekin and spoon rice into it, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon.  Invert onto a bowl/ plate to one side, repeat with the remaining plates and spoon the sauce evenly around the rice.

Slice the duck breast, on the diagonal along the score lines and arrange over the sauce.  Sprinkle over the remaining kaffir lime leaves, chilli slices and coriander leaves and serve with steamed  baby bok choy or any other asian green and lime wedges.

*If you don’t have an oven proof frypan, you can cover a plastic handle with foil or have an oven tray already hot in the oven.