This recipe is one of Gordon Ramsey’s, and was wafted under my nose by Mr Saturday Night, who had seen it on telly, thought I might be interested, and had printed it out for me.

This recipe sounds a bit fussy ( I’ve seen Gordon Ramsey’s vid on YouTube, which scared the living daylights out of me), but is actually very simple indeed when you break it down. I’ve managed to make this a dish that I can serve for dinner parties, with the minimal amount of work required on the night (always a prerequisite for me). The trick is to make and chill the sauce the day before, then just fry off the duck breasts and pop them into the oven, to be served with the reheated sauce come dinner time.

Let’s have a go..


  • Grill pan, for the duck.
  • Baking tray, for the duck.
  • Medium sized saucepan, for the sauce.
  • Sieve.
  • Splatter-guard, if you’ve got one.


INGREDIENTS: This makes enough for 6 portions:

  • 1 duck breast per person
  • 4 shallots
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 100mls Madeira wine (see NOTES)
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 100g stoned cherries ( see NOTES)
  • Olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • S+P


The sauce:

  • Finely chop the shallots and mushrooms
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the sauce pan, and add the shallots and mushrooms.
  • Allow them to soften for about 5 minutes
  • Add the Madeira and allow to bubble up and reduce slightly
  • Add the hot chicken stock
  • Allow this sauce to reduce for about 10 minutes, then strain well , squeezing the last of the stock from the vegetables.
  • Discard the veggies (I know, I hate that bit too – compost heap? or use as a base for soup, to make you feel less guilty..)
  • Check the consistency of the sauce; it should cover the back of a spoon.
  • At this stage I add my cherries – fresh and ripe, if you can get them; frozen if not.


  • Bring the sauce back to a gentle rolling boil, and check the consistency again. When you’re satisfied, just move the pan to a cool spot until required.
  •  Transfer to a covered storage container and keep in the fridge if you’re keeping the sauce for more than an hour or two.

The Duck:

  • Remove the duck from any packaging, and dry it well with kitchen paper.
  • Using your sharpest knife, score through the skin, but not through the meat.P1240023






  • Rub over a very little amount of oil onto the skin
  • Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Heat your grill pan until really hot, then place the duck breasts, skin side down onto the pan for 4-5 minutes until the fat runs. There will be a lot of spitting, so if you have a splatter guard, now is its moment to shine.
  • Have a look at the skin, and if it’s nicely browned, then turn the breasts over to sear the underside for a minute or two.
  • Remove the duck breasts to the shallow roasting tin, and put into the oven.



  • Cook at 180degrees for 20 minutes or so ( this depends on how you like your duck; I like mine medium rare, so 15-20 minutes is perfect)
  • Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave it to rest – the resting is important – give it about 10-15 minutes, while you reheat the sauce.


  • I like to cut the duck breasts on the diagonal for serving.




  • Warning: Madeira wine is expensive, and once when I was bemoaning this fact to a foodie friend, she mentioned that Buckfast Tonic wine was a really good substitute for Madeira. I tried it (well you have to, don’t you?), and she was right.. So go on then, let’s see you going into your local offy, and saying you want a bottle of Buckfast for cooking. Yea, we believe you Missis… 😉
  • Cherries: Fresh ripe cherries are few and far between, even at the height of Summer, and time-consuming to stone. I tend to use frozen, which are already stoned.. I get mine in the frozen fruit section at Sainsbury’s. Another advantage is that you always have enough left over  for another time.

I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

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