Coffee Roasted Duck with Potato, Pear and Artichoke Ragu
Swedes are obsessed with coffee. They like it strong. They like it hot. And they like it many times a day. Consequently one of my favourite places in Gothenburg is a coffee shop called Bar Centro which is the hipster dive bar alternative to Starbucks. Their coffee is super strong and unbelievably good. They’ve got me hooked on something they call a 50-50 which is a double espresso super charged with hot milk. It’s a sort of lengthened version of a macchiato but without being as long or frothy as a cappuccino. It’s strong, bitter, sweet and creamy.
So when I saw a recipe for coffee roasted duck in Marcus Samuelsson’s book my eyes lit up and my pulse started racing as if I had just ingested a litre of espresso. The background story to this dish is a confluence of his Ethiopian and Swedish roots. He recalls the smell of his grandmother making coffee from scratch by roasting green coffee beans in a pan that filled their house with an enchanting scent and then layers the Swedish culture for coffee consumption on top of this to create a dish that is very unique. And delicious.
1 duck breast 2 cups of coffee 12 cardamom pods 1 stick of cinnamon 2 handfuls of coffee beans Cinnamon powder
Potato and pear ragu
1 firm pear 4 small potatoes 3 Jerusalem artichokes 3 tablespoons of crème fraiche 1 endive Butter Salt Pepper 150 mls of chicken stock Tarragon Honey
Wake up. Brew the coffee. Pound half of the cardamom pods and add them to the coffee along with the cinnamon. Allow the coffee to cool. Then slash the skin of the duck breast and marinate all day in the fridge.
Return from work and remove the duck from the marinate. It should look similar to the picture below. Pat it dry, sprinkle with salt and return to the fridge with nothing covering it so that the skin dries out.
Peel and core the pear leaving it in half. Simmer until tender in water with a few cardamom pods, a sprinkling of tarragon and some honey thrown in. You can cook it in red wine but I didn’t have any because of Sweden’s ridiculous licensing laws that mean you can’t buy wine in a supermarket.
Meanwhile boil the potatoes in chicken stock. When they are 8 minutes from being tender add the peeled Jerusalem artichokes. Remove from the heat and drain the potatoes and artichokes, but keep some of the liquor.
Now add you duck breast skin side down to a medium-hot frying pan and render the fat out. Shake some cinnamon powder over the underside of the duck. Drain off some duck fat. Then add the coffee beans and cardamom pods and turn up the heat. The kitchen should fill with an intoxicating smell. Once the skin is crisp turn the duck over and the heat down. Add some of the reserved liquor from the potato and artichoke pan and finish the cooking by braising.
Slice the vegetables and then return them to the heat and add the crème fraiche and some more liquor to heat through along with a touch of butter. After five minutes or so add some shredded endive and slices of perfectly poached pear. Season with gusto and add more tarragon.
Discard the coffee beans and cardamom and allow the duck to rest then carve diagonally and serve with the ragu for a very unusual, but utterly delicious dinner.
The combination works brilliantly. The duck was pink and moist with some of the crispiest skin I've encountered for a long time. It turns out that duck is tailor made for the bitter aromatic aspects of coffee. And the creamy ragu with the sweetness of pear is the equivalent of adding a tempering dollop of foam on top of an intense espresso. It's an unusual dish. And I am delighted to have discovered it.
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: