Our Pri Lenart February dinner party menu is impressive, easy and mostly prepared in advance! All quantities serve 8. The winter salad makes a light and healthy starter, great for a palate pick-me-up and features blood oranges which are at their best this month. If you want to make it a little more substantial you could add a little goat’s cheese or feta. The duck is rich and comforting. Follow with a nutty crumble using delicious seasonal forced rhubarb, paired with a luscious ginger ice cream.
PRI LENART FEBRUARY DINNER PARTY MENU:
CRUNCHY WINTER SALAD WITH BLOOD ORANGES
DUO OF DUCK BREAST WITH BOULANGER POTATOES AND A RED ONION TARTLET WITH A HONEY AND SOY SAUCE; STEAMED PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI
RHUBARB CRUMBLES WITH GINGER ICE CREAM
RECIPES: Each recipe can be prepared ahead up to the asterisk; directions for finishing and a time plan are at the end. The confit duck can be prepared up to a week in advance if it is kept refrigerated and completely covered in fat, and will only improve in flavour and tenderness. The sauce, rhubarb, crumble mix, and ice cream could be prepared the day ahead if you would really like to get ahead!
CRUNCHY RED WINTER SALAD WITH BLOOD ORANGES:
100G BABY SPINACH LEAVES
1-2 BEETROOT, COOKED
1 CRISP, RED APPLE
2-3 BLOOD ORANGES
JUICE OF 1 LARGE LEMON
OLIVE OIL, SALT AND PEPPER
METHOD: Pour the lemon juice into a clean jam jar, add 2-3 times the amount of olive oil, shake to emulsify and season to taste.
Wash and dry the salad leaves, dice the beetroot and peel and segment the oranges. Cut the pomegranate in half and spoon out the seeds. *When ready to serve, toss the leaves in the dressing (shake it well first) and arrange on 8 plates. Core and finely dice the apple, leaving the skin on, and scatter (as artistically as possible!) over the leaves with the beetroot, orange segments and pomegranate seeds. Serve.
DUO OF DUCK BREAST WITH BOULANGER POTATOES AND A RED ONION TARTLET WITH HONEY, SOY AND WINE SAUCE
This recipe uses duck breasts in 2 ways, pan fried and confit, but can be simplified if you are short of time by only doing the pan-fried duck (you will then panfry all 6 or 8 breasts, of course, so will need 2 large frying pans!). The difference in taste and texture is interesting, with the confit meltingly tender and with a really crispy skin, although the confit meat of course is a rather dull brown in colour. If you prefer, this could be cut into matchsticks and served with the onion in the tartlets.
6-8 DUCK BREASTS (depending on their size and appetite of your guests, about 300g per person)
DUCK OR GOOSE FAT FOR CONFIT, enough to nearly cover 3-4 breasts in a single layer
4 SHALLOTS, 6 CLOVES GARLIC, peeled, 1 BUNCH FRESH THYME
SALT AND PEPPER
Start with the confit, this is better done the day before (see note at top of page). Preheat the oven to 110c (90c in a fan oven). Melt the fat in a roasting tin with onions, garlic and thyme. Taking half the duck breasts, score and salt the skin, place in the fat skin side up (the fat should come up nearly to the skin). Place tin uncovered in oven and cook for 3 hours. When cooked leave to cool in the fat and put the duck (still under the fat) in the fridge until ready to reheat. *To serve, reheat the oven to 200c and remove the breasts from the fat, scraping off as much as possible. Roast for 15 mins, skin side up, and rest, uncovered, for at least 5 minutes before serving.
FOR THE SAUCE:
1 SHALLOT, finely chopped
2 TBSPS HONEY
LARGE GLASS RED WINE
1 TBSP DARK SOY SAUCE
1TBSP BALSAMIC VINEGAR
300ml CHICKEN OR DUCK STOCK
Prepare the sauce: Melt the butter and fry off the shallot, add honey, cook until starting to caramelise, then add wine, soy sauce, vinegar and stock and reduce until it thickens, taste and strain - you want the honey, soy, vinegar and wine flavours to be well balanced. *Reheat just before serving.
2 KILOS POTATOES (waxy, eg desiree, will keep their shape better)
1 ONION AND 2 CLOVES GARLIC, very thinly sliced
300-350 ml FRESH CHICKEN STOCK
A LITTLE BUTTER, SALT AND PEPPER
Don’t do this too early or the potatoes may discolour. (or you can heat them through in a microwave after assembling to reduce the cooking time later and the risk of discolouration). Fry off the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes without colouring, just to cook off the raw flavour. Prepare the potatoes: peel and slice fairly thinly on a mandolin. Butter an ovenproof dish, approx 32x22cms, and layer the potatoes up together with the onions, garlic and pepper, keeping the biggest pieces for the top layer. Only salt the potatoes if the stock you will use is homemade and without salt, as bought stocks generally are already salted. When the dish is nearly full pour over stock, then dab the top with butter. *When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200c and bake for about 1 hour.
FOR THE TARTS:
500g PACK ALL BUTTER PUFF PASTRY (we make our own, but it’s a long process for a garnish!)
4 RED ONIONS, approx the same size
1 tbsp BUTTER
1 tbsp OLIVE OIL
2 TBSPS BALSAMIC VINEGAR
GLASS RED WINE
1TBSP CASTER SUGAR
GLASS CHICKEN STOCK
1 TSP CHOPPED THYME LEAVES
Bun tin for forming tartlets
Prepare the tartlets: Peel and halve each onion lengthwise through the root, being careful not to cut off too much of the root as this will hold them together, but take off all tough outside layers as these will not soften when cooked and will spoil the dish. Heat the butter and oil and place onions cut side down in a pan just big enough to hold the onions in a single layer. Cook slowly until nicely brown on all sides, around 20 mins, then add the vinegar, wine, sugar, stock and thyme. Cover and cook, simmering gently, for about 30 mins or until the onions are very tender but still whole. Carefully remove from the pan and if there is more than a little, syrupy liquid left, reduce it to a syrup. Cool the onions. Roll out the pastry, and cut disks about 2cm bigger than your tart/mince pie tin holes. Place a drizzle of syrup in the bottom of each hole and place half onion cut side down in each. Tuck your pastry edges down around the onion (you can pre-form this a bit with your fingers) to form 8 tartlets, and reserve the rest of the syrup for later. *When ready to serve, heat the oven to 200c and bake for about 15- 20 mins, until the pastry is cooked. Rest for a minute and VERY CAREFULLY turn out; it is easy to burn yourself! The easiest way to turn out the tarts is to lay a baking tray over your tart tin, swiftly invert, then rearrange any slipped onions, then glaze the tops with a little more syrup.
For the pan-fried duck: dry, score and salt the skin and leave uncovered in the fridge for the skin to dry out until ready to cook.
12 STICKS RHUBARB
2 TBSPS BROWN SUGAR
HALF TSP GROUND GINGER
250g PLAIN FLOUR
200g DARK MUSCOVADO SUGAR
1 LEVEL TSP CINNAMON
125g BUTTER, COLD AND CUBED SMALL
HALF TSP SALT
METHOD: wash, trim and slice rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Slowly cook for about 20 mins with sugar, water and ginger until tender. Cool. Prepare crumble mix: Pulse nuts until coarsely chopped, remove from processor and pulse all other dry ingredients, lastly add butter until crumbly. Add nuts and keep cool until ready to assemble. Fill individual dishes or ramekins two-thirds full with rhubarb mixture, strain first through a colander if it seems very wet. *When ready to serve, place crumble mix on top of each dish, pressing well down around the edges with the back of a spoon, and crumbling a little more mixture on top. Bake at 180c for 15 mins until bubbling.
GINGER ICE CREAM
150g CASTER SUGAR
4 EGG YOLKS
200ml FULL-FAT MILK
200 ml DOUBLE CREAM
75g CRYSTALISED STEM GINGER, FINELY CHOPPED
HALF TSP FRESH GINGER, FINELY GRATED
This is best done early in the day as it needs a few hours to freeze. Put any leftovers straight back in the freezer and use within 1 week. This recipe contains raw egg, so scrupulous hygiene is important, only use very fresh eggs from trusted sources.
Mix yolks and sugar with a hand held electric whisk until pale and creamy, about 3 mins, then add milk, cream and ginger. Gently mix and pour in ice-cream maker, following manufacturer’s directions; alternatively freeze in a large, shallow dish, forking and mixing it every hour until it has set evenly.
TO FINISH THE MEAL: example for dinner starting at 8pm, adjust timings to suit you!
7pm preheat oven to 200c, 180 fan.
7.20pm: cook potatoes in preheated oven.
7.35pm sear the raw duck breasts, and pan-fry them for20- 25 mins skin side down in a dry, heavy-bottomed pan. Start on a medium heat, reduce to low as soon as they start to cook. Watch the skin doesn’t over brown; reduce heat further if necessary, and pour off all fat once or twice. Turn breasts, cook for 4-5 minutes on flesh side, turn the heat off and leave to rest in their pan, uncovered, in a warm place for 15 minutes.
7.55pm assemble salads.
8pm reheat the confit duck and cook the tartlets. Boil kettle. Serve salads.
8.05pm Turn off heat for pan-fried duck
8.15pm: steam broccoli, heat plates, serving dishes and sauce. Remove duck from oven, check and glaze tartlets, plate up potatoes using a cutter, slice duck and give each person 2 slices from each type of duck breast, with sauce.
8.20: serve main course
9pm or when ready, cook crumbles at 180c for 15 mins, then serve with ice cream