Duck Breast with Plum Compote

I’ve jazzed up ordinary duck breast with a plum & clementine compote, a fresh salad with a zingy dressing, and a crispy ginger garnish.

To make this a ’30 Minute Meal’, you could start the compote off, then immediately start frying the duck. The compote will be ready by the time the duck is rested and ready to slice.

Serves: 2


For the compote:

  • 2 clementines, juice only
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 red- or purple-skinned plums – no need to peel
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root (approx. 1/2”) – no need to peel
  • 1 tablespoon rhubarb vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soft dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the duck:

  • 2 duck breasts, around 200-225g each, with skin on
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 25g pea shoots
  • 25g watercress leaves
  • 25g lamb’s lettuce

For the salad dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons rhubarb vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac – optional

For the crispy ginger:

  • A 1” piece of fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • 1 small, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • A chopping board, with chopping and paring knives
  • A citrus juicer
  • A sieve (not too fine a mesh)
  • 2 small and 1 medium bowls
  • 1 large, oven-safe frying pan (see Footnote)
  • 1 small frying pan
  • Tongs
  • A board for resting cooked meat
  • A manual whisk
  • A large slotted spoon
  • 1 plate with kitchen paper

Making the compote:

  1. Juice the clementines and put with the star anise in a saucepan over a medium-high heat.
  2. Stone and roughly chop the plums, roughly chop the ginger, and add to the saucepan.
  3. Add the vinegar, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon, and stir well. Cook for 15-20 minutes until thickened, stirring regularly.
  4. Push through a sieve (to remove ginger chunks, star anise, and plum peel) into a small bowl and set aside.

Making the duck:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted).
  2. Heat a large frying pan on high heat with a small amount of butter.
  3. Score the duck skin with several diagonal slashes, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Place skin side down in the pan. Spoon some compote over the top of each (leave out if doing 30-minute meal version).
  4. Fry for 5 minutes until the skin is crispy. Turn each breast over, and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 8-10 minutes until done (thicker/larger breasts may take up to 15 minutes). You can check by slicing them through the middle – you want pink, but not red.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and move the breasts to a board to rest for at least 10 minutes (to avoid having thin juices swamp the serving plates).

Making the salad:

  1. While the duck is resting, toss the leaves in a medium bowl.

Making the salad dressing:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until fully combined.

Making the crispy ginger:

  1. When the duck is almost done resting, heat some oil in a small frying pan over a high heat.
  2. Peel and finely slice the ginger root.
  3. Fry for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until browned (but not blackened) and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper.


  1. Put a long oval of compote on each plate. (If you prefer, you can spoon the compote over the duck rather than having it underneath.)
  2. Toss the dressing with the salad, and place half on each plate.
  3. Slice each duck breast into 1/2 – 3/4 inch slices, and place on the compote.
  4. Crumble the crispy ginger until it’s in small bits, and sprinkle lightly over the duck and generously over the salad.

No Oven-Safe Frying Pan?
If you’re not sure your frying pan and its handle should go into the oven, you could line a baking tray with tin foil and roast the duck breasts on that. Make sure the tray is in the oven whilst it’s pre-heating.

You could use satsumas or small oranges instead of clementines. Any fruit vinegar that complements plum and orange flavours would work for the compote and for the dressing – plum, blackberry, raspberry etc. Or, use sherry vinegar, or a very light version of red wine vinegar.

Sumac is a lemony spice that, when added to the dressing, really lifted it into something special. If you don’t have sumac (my small-town Asda has it, so it’s easy to get), just leave it out.


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