On the plus side, I get to work from home and I thought this would mean I get a bit more time to cook.
After 3 weeks, I can tell you, this is not the case, I work also during the time I would have used for travel to and from the office. And developing a new routine, I haven't felt any inspiration in the kitchen at all. Just remembering my old ropes takes an effort and stopping Lundulph from behaving like he's still living on his own requires overtime.
Thus, to kick-start things, I thought why not go through Ye Olde Recipe Collection? And I did, picked out 3 cards and went shopping.
The first card I selected was Sliced Oriental Duck with pomegranate sauce.
Now, I'm a bit divided when it comes to duck - I've had both good and bad experience with it, but it would make a difference to our regular staple protein source. Being an old recipe card, the duck pieces listed in the recipe were not in stock, I went for the duck breast and with skin.
There was a new spice involved - Sichuan pepper, very exciting!
And of course, I doubled the recipe, so that I wouldn't have to cook again in the next couple of days.
2 fresh pomegranates
2 tbsp redcurrant sauce with port
4 duck breasts
2 tsp Sichuan Pepper
2 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
2 tsp caster sugar
4 tsp olive oil
200 g fresh thin rice noodles
- Cut the pomegranates in half, then carefully tease out the seeds, discarding the pith and membranes. Careful, they are full of bright red juice that happily squirts a lot further than is necessary and that stains even more.
- Save a handful of the seeds for decoration and place the rest in a food processor or blender and whizz for a couple of minutes.
- Place a sieve over a small saucepan and pour the pomegranate pulp into the sieve. Using a spoon, stir the pulp and push through as much of the juice as possible and discard the rest.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and place a small roasting tin inside to heat up as well.
- Remove the skin and the fatty layer from the duck breasts, this should be relatively easy, if a bit icky. Then place thee meat on a plate.
- Crush the Sichuan pepper in a mortar and pestle or grind coarsely in a spice grinder, then mix with the Chinese Five Spice and caster sugar. Rub into the duck breasts.
- Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan, that's large enough so the duck breasts aren't crowded. Brown the duck breasts for a couple of minutes on each side, to get a nice colour and to seal the meat.
- Place the duck breasts in the pre-heated roasting tin and let roast in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on how done you want them.
- In the mean time, bring the pomegranate juice to the boil and let it simmer down to a syrup, about 10 minutes.
- Place the rice noodles in another saucepan, boil up water in the kettle, then pour over the noodles to cover. Simmer gently for a few minutes to warm through.
- Clean, trim and slice the onions, use also the green parts, they are just as tasty and will add nice colour to the dish.
- When the pomegranate syrup has formed, add 2 tbsp of the redcurrant sauce and stir in well and let simmer for a further 2-3 minutes.
- When the duck breasts are ready, take out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Pour off the water from the rice noodles and lay up as base on four plates.
- When the duck breasts are rested, slice each thinly and layer over the noodles. Drizzle pomegranate sauce over and sprinkle the spring onions and pomegranate seeds and serve.
To be honest, this didn't quite work for me and Lundulph. On the whole the combination of fruit and meat is tricky, unless it is something sour and tannic like cranberries or lingonberries. So I don't think this will be a repeat recipe.
In repeat meals, I poured the jus from the duck into the sauce, I think that may have helped a little, but still the whole thing was too sweet. Maybe it was because of the redcurrant sauce, who knows.
The Sichuan pepper was interesting - it smelt quite strongly in the jar, though not unpleasant. It seemed very dry, but was quite difficult to crush with the mortar and pestle, I added the caster sugar to help with that, but it didn't seem to make much difference.
I also over-cooked the duck I think, it wasn't as pink as I would have liked it, but I followed the original recipe, and started with the duck breasts first and the sauce later, so all of the roasting time was wasted on dismantling the pomegranates.
I recommend using pomegranates as a sweet snack in front of the TV. Just cut a lid off at the "crown" end and place in a large bowl lined with kitchen tissue. Then you can sit and watch a movie while slowly peeling the outer skin and prising off the seeds one or two at a time.