The Main Event: Roast Duck With Lavender Honey

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Renowned British chef and prolific cookbook author Paul Gayler's latest collection of recipes honors the birds: chicken, duck, quail, pheasant, grouse, squab, get it. If it flies, Gayler will cook it from beak to tail. Pick up a copy of Chicken & Other Birds, and some culinary-grade lavender blossoms while you're at it. 

You may have a few reservations about cooking a dish using duck with lavender, but this recipe will soon convert you! The resulting sauce has a wonderful rich flavor and the sweet-and-sour caramelized root vegetables help balance the dish superbly.

Reprinted with permission from Chicken & Other Birds

The Main Event: Roast Duck With Lavender Honey
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  • 4 tablespoons lavender flowers (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 4 1/2-pound whole duck
  • Scant 1/2 cup good-quality red wine vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups brown chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons lavender honey or clear honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 parsnips
  • 1 3/4 cups baby turnips
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups brown chicken stock
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place half the lavender flowers in a mortar with the thyme, peppercorns and sea salt. Grind to a powder.
  3. With a knife, lightly score the duck breasts in a crisscross pattern, taking care not to cut right through them. Rub the duck liberally with half the lavender mixture.
  4. Place the duck in a roasting tin and roast in the preheated oven for about 1¾ hours.
  5. Remove from the oven, transfer the duck to a plate and set aside.
  6. Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin and place the tin over a medium heat. Add the vinegar and stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Return the duck to the roasting tin, spoon over the stock mixture, then brush the duck with half the honey.
  8. Return the duck to the oven and cook for about 15 minutes until it is beautifully caramelized. While the duck is cooking, baste it once or twice with the pan juices, brush it with the remaining honey and sprinkle over the remaining lavender mixture.
  9. While the duck is in the oven for its final cooking, prepare the vegetables.
  10. Heat the butter in a large lidded frying pan. When the butter is hot, add the parsnips and turnips and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to color. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and vinegar and toss together for 1 minute.
  11. Add the stock and raisins and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the vegetables are just tender and beautifully caramelized. Keep warm covered with the lid.
  12. When the duck is ready, remove it from the oven. Strain the cooking juices from the roasting tin into a small pan.
  13. Cut the duck into 8 pieces. Pour the cooking juices over and serve with the caramelized vegetables.
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