Festive duck breast with lemon and thyme polenta

This quick and easy duck dish has all the makings of a great night in; simple but full flavoured and an easy-peasy recipe.

Serves 2


2 duck breasts, skin on

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 cloves

Finely grated zest of ½ orange

150ml Marsala wine

100ml chicken stock

Good quality cranberry sauce

Sea salt flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

1 sprigs of thyme to garnish

Pinch of lemon zest to garnish

For the polenta:

125g polenta

50g unsalted butter

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste


Rub the skin of the duck breasts with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper and place them skin side down in a dry, preheated frying pan.

Cook the duck for 6 minutes on each side over a medium heat if you like it pink or 8 minutes a side if you prefer it murdered.

While the duck is cooking, you can get on with preparing the polenta. Bring 575ml of water to the boil in a saucepan and add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking all the time until it thickens – about 3–4 minutes should do it. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, thyme and lemon zest and mix well, then season to taste. Leave for a few minutes to let those lovely flavours infuse the polenta.

Now back to the duck. Remove the duck from the frying pan and set it aside to rest. Add the star anise, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest to the pan you cooked the duck in, then pour in the Marsala and chicken stock and deglaze those lovely duck juices. Reduce the liquid over a high heat for 3 minutes or so to intensify the flavours and thicken the sauce, then have a taste and season.

Carve the duck breast on the diagonal and place the slices on top of the polenta. Pour over the reduced sauce and add a teaspoon of cranberry on top of the duck. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and a pinch of lemon zest.

Serve with whatever you fancy but the Hairy Bikers like this with green beans.

Recipe extracted from The Hairy Bikers’ 12 Days of Christmas: Christmas Made Easy for Your Family and Friends by Dave Myers and Si King

See The Hairy Bikers cooking live at a BBC Good Food Show 2016: http://www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com/