Food & drink

Kitchen Confidential

Comfort food that’s just a bit special. The Lincolnshire Chef shows us his favourite duck recipe…
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The Comfy Duck restaurant sits in the beautiful parkland surroundings of Best Western Oaklands Hall Hotel, nestled between the Lincolnshire Wolds and the River Humber. It’s an area bursting at the seams with great produce, including duck, which the award-winning kitchen team pair here with a summer purée, kale and rich fondant potato to create a delicious dish that they think anyone could (and should) try at home.

Many people think duck is fiddly to cook, but the team believes that it is as simple as steak and has the most beautiful flavour. To test for well-done duck, clench your fist tightly and it should feel a similar firmness as the area below your thumb. For medium, lightly clench your fist and do the same. For rare, release your fist completely. As with all meats, always allow 5 minutes for the duck to rest after cooking.



For the fondant:

  • 2 large baking potatoes  |  100g butter  |  1 bay leaf  |  2 cloves of garlic, crushed in skins
  • 2 sprigs of fresh sage, stems removed

For the duck:

  • 4 free-range duck breasts  |  25g butter  |  1tbsp Lincolnshire rapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves garlic  |  2 sprigs of fresh sage

For the squash purée:

  • 1 medium squash, peeled and chopped into 2cm squares  |  1 bay leaf    |  150g unsalted butter
  • Salt and white pepper to season   |  1tsp Lincolnshire heather honey

For the kale:

  • 150g curly kale, stalks removed  |  25g butter



  1. Pre-heat an oven to 150ºC. Trim any excess, over-hanging fat from the duck and keep to one side. This will be used to flavour the potatoes. With a sharp knife score the duck skin, making sure you don’t cut through to the meat. Cover and place back into the fridge.
  2. To make the squash purée, add the squash to a large pan, cover with water, add the butter, a bay leaf and salt and pepper. Bring the water to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until the squash is soft and tender. Place the squash straight into a blender, then reduce the leftover liquid in the pan for two or three minutes, removing the bay leaf first. Add two tablespoons of the reduced liquid and blend on a medium speed, gradually adding enough liquid back into
    the cooked squash until you have a purée. Then add the honey, blend again, and season to taste. This can be prepared the day before and heated up gently in a saucepan.
  3. To make the fondant potatoes, cut off the ends to flatten and cut the potato in half, creating equal rounds. On a high heat, place the potatoes into a heavy based saucepan and add 100g of butter, the excess duck fat, sage, crushed garlic and a bay leaf. After around 5 minutes, once the potatoes are sealed on both sides and the butter has become frothy, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for a further five minutes and then place into the
    pre-heated oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. To cook the duck, place a saucepan on a medium heat and add rapeseed oil. Season the fat side of the duck with salt and pepper, place fat side down into the hot pan and cook for four minutes. Turn the breasts over and add butter, garlic and sage to the pan and cook for a further two minutes. Turn the duck breasts back on their skin side and baste with the oil and butter for a further two minutes (for medium-rare). Remove the duck from the pan and rest on a board or cool surface for five minutes.
  5. Remove the fondant potatoes from the oven and add back into the pan used to cook the duck. Place on a high heat and crisp all sides of the potato.
  6. While these crisp, add the washed, chopped kale to a pan of boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Drain and add butter, then add the kale again and season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, place a tablespoon of purée onto each plate, add the fondant potato and kale, slice the duck breast and place on top, serving with a homemade gravy or jus.
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