4 (900g) duck breast fillets, skin on
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp small sage leaves
1/3 cup (80ml) calvados, cognac or brandy
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1/3 cup (80ml) apple juice
Red cabbage sauerkraut
750g red cabbage
2 tsp pure salt flakes
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp caraway seeds
12 juniper berries
Recipe by Lyndey Milan
Photography by John Paul Urizar
Food Prep by Michaela Le Compte
Styling by Sarah-Jane Hallett
1. For the sauerkraut: sterilise 2 medium jars by boiling in water for 10 minutes, removing with tongs and drying in a low oven.
2. Remove core and finely shred cabbage with a sharp knife, mandoline or food processor (if you must), place in a large, non-reactive bowl and, with clean hands, toss through with salt and spices. Leave for 30 minutes or until cabbage starts to sweat. Massage with hands for 10 minutes, or bash with the flat head of a meat tenderiser until liquid runs out of the cabbage when you squeeze it.
3. Pack cabbage and the liquid which has released tightly into jars, pressing down hard to release any air bubbles. Small dishes (also sterilised) can be used to weigh down the cabbage, or partly fill ziplock bags with pastry weights or water and place on top. Wipe clean jar rims and seal. You may need to repeat this, compressing again after an hour or so as you want the liquid to cover the cabbage by 3cm. If necessary, top up with pure filtered water (like flat mineral water) mixed in the ratio of 1/3 teaspoon salt to ½ cup water.
4. Place jars on a tray (to collect any overflow) in a cool, dry place to ferment. Open jars daily so sauerkraut can ‘burp’, ensuring cabbage is covered. After 2 days it will bubble and ‘burp’ more strongly. After 3 days, taste the sauerkraut daily. If you are happy with the level of sourness, reseal and chill. If you would like the sauerkraut to be more sour, reseal, place on tray and stand for longer as its tanginess increases with each day. Generally sauerkraut takes 7–10 days to ferment, but can be left out longer if you want more development (it can be eaten immediately, but will improve with time). Store, covered in the fridge for 3–6 months. After 3 months it will lose some of its crispness. Makes approximately 800g.
5. For the duck: pre-heat oven to very low (only 80ºC). Score the duck skin diagonally. Combine salt, and pepper and rub into the skin. Place skin- side down in a cold frying pan, then turn on moderate heat and cook until brown and crisp, approximately 6–8 minutes. Turn flesh-side down; cook until done as desired, or 2–4 minutes for the ideal medium–rare. Transfer to a warmed plate and place in the low oven to rest.
6. Pour off any excess duck fat but leave some in the pan. Add apples and sage and cook until apples are golden on both sides. Remove apple slices.
7. Add garlic, calvados, chicken stock and apple juice to the pan and increase heat to high. Scrape up any residue and put back any duck juices. Cook until reduced and slightly thickened.
8. Carve duck into 1cm slices, nap with sauce, toss apples with sauerkraut and serve with wilted spinach if desired.
Although the sauerkraut is fermented, it is also pickled because it is preserved in brine.