I have written about how much honey is produced in Spain and how very inventive chefs are when they use honey in their kitchens. I am often surprised at the dishes in which honey turns up. For example, here honey is the ingredient that makes a real tasty difference to the serving of duck breasts with figs. A dish that might be a bit dry were it not for how wonderful duck breast can taste once covered in honey.

Ingredients

  • 4 duck breast fillets
  • 5 tablespoons of runny Spanish honey
  • Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
  • Half a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons of dry cider
  • 8 shallots
  • 4 fresh figs, halved
  • 12 cooked chestnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Preparation

Take the duck breasts and make three slashes in the skin of each. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, one tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar, cider, salt and pepper in a small dish. Put the duck breasts into this, turning them over to make sure they are coated in the marinade. Cover loosely, put in the fridge and leave to marinate for several hours, turning the breasts on occasion.
Put the peeled shallots in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius or gas mark 6. Heat a griddle pan. Dry the skin of the duck breasts and put them on to the griddle pan, skin side down, over a medium to high heat. Cook the duck for around four minutes, until the skin is brown but not burnt. Paint the duck breast all over with 2 tablespoons of the honey and season all over with salt and pepper. Put them skin side up in a small roasting tin. Spoon over the marinade and cook in the preheated oven for seven minutes. While the duck is cooking, drain the duck fat off the griddle. Put the figs, chestnuts and shallots in a small bowl with the rest of the balsamic vinegar and honey, olive oil and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Heat the griddle and put the figs on it. Cook quickly on both sides, just long enough to allow the figs to soften and char slightly. Add the chestnuts and shallots and cook long enough for the figs to heat through and become caramelized in the Spanish honey. Let the duck breasts rest for three minutes, covered and kept warm. Then cut them into neat slices, across the breast, and serve immediately with the figs, shallots and chestnuts.