13 November 2012

Duck Pie


There were several 3 for 2 offers when I went on my weekly grocery shop the other day and every now and then I can't resist these. This time my impulse purchase was three packets of duck breast fillets. They did look nice!

But of course, once home, I started racking my brains on what to actually do with them. I didn't want to do a chicken dish, duck is fancier and deserves special effort I think.

I'd also purchased a proper pie dish, which needed inauguration, so to speak, so I wanted to do a pie (again). I flicked through several of my cook books, but nothing on duck pie. The most intriguing I managed to find was a recipe for duck with cabbage from my Bulgarian cook book, but the amounts given seemed disproportionate and I wasn't really sure about combining duck with cabbage either. So I widened the search to the BBC's food pages. Lundulph was a bit ahead of me there and had found a recipe that he didn't like at all. But when I searched, I came across this recipe, which would do nicely, albeit with some alterations.

After repressing the little voice telling me that tender duck fillets should not be cooked for long because they'd go as tough as leather, I made another trip to the shops to get the remaining ingredients. I decided to make my own shortcrust pastry, now that I have the hang of it.


Pie filling
1 large onion
1 large carrot
150 g shiitake mushrooms
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 tbsp tomato purée
525 g duck breast fillets
100 g new potatoes
75 g pearl barley
150 ml Madeira wine
400 ml beef stock
6 cloves roast garlic
1 dried bay leaf
black pepper

Pie crust
200 g plain flour
125 g cold butter
1 medium egg
1 tbsp cold water


  1. Peel and slice the onion and carrot thinly.
  2. Brush off any dirt from the mushrooms and cut in chunks.
  3. Heat up the grapeseed oil in a large pan and fry the onion, carrot and mushrooms until they go soft. Stir occasionally so they don't burn.
  4. Stir in the tomato purée and fry for a few minutes further.
  5. In the mean time, cut the duck breast fillets in bite sized chunks, wash and dice the potatoes and rinse and drain the pearl barley. Then stir all of them into the pan, followed by the Madeira and beef stock.
  6. Peel and mash the garlic and stir into the stew along with the bay leaf and black pepper.
  7. Turn down to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes until most of the liquid has been reduced.
  8. Now pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and make the shortcrust pastry. Measure up the flour in a bowl. Measure up the butter and cut into dice and add to the flour.
  9. Working with the finger tips of one hand only, stir and pinch together to form fine crumbs.
  10. In a separate small bowl, whisk lightly together the egg and the water and add to the crumb mixture.
  11. Continue a little to combine to a soft and sticky dough.
  12. Flour the work surface and turn out the dough onto it and knead a couple of times to make sure it's well blended.
  13. Roll out to about 3 mm thickness and enough to cover the pie dish.
  14. Spoon the pie filling into the pie dish, then cover with the pastry lid and crimp to the sides and make a few holes to let steam out.
  15. Bake until the crust goes golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Again, the pastry started to melt, as I put it over the hot filling, for a fancier version, it would be better to make the filling a bit in advance and let it cool before making into a pie.

I also forgot to brush with egg wash, though I think this can be done at the end as well.

On the whole, this pie turned out quite nice, the duck breast fillets did not go though as leather, on the contrary, it was very tender and I think the Madeira and beef stock helped to enhance the gaminess of it.

I'm not entirely happy with the crust, I used unsalted butter and it tasted a bit funny I thought, perhaps salted butter would be better or maybe even half and half of butter and lard would give a better flavour.

Lundulph said it was good, but then he came home late and had skipped lunch, so I suspect he would even have eaten cheese, he was very hungry. One thing he said was that basically a top crust pie is a stew with lid. I couldn't agree more, in fact, what would be good if one could create a bigger amount of stew and freeze in portions, then just thaw, cover with a pastry lid and bake.

I also note that this is a triple carb recipe - pie crust, pearl barley and potatoes, though all in small amounts. I've never cooked with pearl barley before, it was good. To my untrained eye it looks very much like whole wheat corns and I thought it worked rather nice as a space filler and soaked up the liquid very nicely.

No comments: