Duck Aigre Douce with Roasted Garlic and Celeriac Mash

This recipe was the first one my overly ambitious father attempted to teach me to cook at age 8 (yet I still to this day do not know how to make an omelette). It is a rich vinegary caramel sweet and sour sauce (nothing like the Chinese sweet and sour sauce). It is the best duck dish I have ever encountered, including the ubiquitous, and, to my mind, overrated duck a l’orange. It is a recipe my Dad picked up from John Desmond of the Island Cottage Restaurant. My first time making this as a non-supervised adult was for my first time cooking for my boyfriend, and having informed him in advance of the menu, I then discovered that duck was pretty difficult to come by in my small Dutch town, particularly as it was a public holiday. I spent an hour roaming the town by bike trying to find an open butcher, while finding myself gazing increasingly longingly at the ducks swimming past me in canals, wondering how far I was willing to go to impress a boy…(I found a butcher shop in the end). The celeriac mash creates a nice, slightly tart contrast with the rich, sweet sauce but mashed potato with lots of butter is good too.

Serves 4

Ingredients: Duck & Sauce

  • 4 duck breasts with skin
  • 75g sugar
  • 30g water
  • -1 pint stock, preferably duck or chicken, but other meat stock will do
  • 100g butter
  • 75g red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method- Sauce

  • In a small saucepan dissolve 75 grams of sugar in 30 grams of water and cook until caramelised; the mixture will start to develop a slight brown colour, the bubbles get bigger and you begin to get a a slight sweet caramel smell.
  • Watch carefully at this stage; continue cooking until the caramel has a good rich colour and a sweet, slightly nutty aroma; If you cook it for too long it will develop a deep mahogony colour and a bitter, burnt taste.
  • If this happens, you start again (don’t  worry if this does, it has happened to me and is always successful the second time around).
  • At this stage remove the caramel from the heat and add 75 grams of red wine vinegar, (be careful as it can splash back at you at this stage).
  • Cook slowly until all the caramel is dissolved.Add one pint of stock and reduce down to a rich coating consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper and add 100 grams of butter.

Method- Duck

  • Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add the duck breasts skin side down.
  • Cook for 20 minutes, then turn over and cook for 3-4 minutes to seal.
  • Season.
  • Slice the duck breast and serve with the sauce.

Ingredients: Celeriac Mash

  • 2 celeriac
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • olive oil


  • Remove the ugly skin from the celeriac (this is best done basically by chopping it off with a sharp knife, peeling is a horrible never ending task).
  • Cut into 2cm cubes.
  • Toss in olive oil.
  • Roast with the garlic for 30 or so minutes at 180C until soft.
  • Reserve a few cubes to scatter around each plate.
  • Mash the rest using a potato masher or (preferably) a hand held blender, along with the peeled garlic cloves, creme fraiche and nutmeg.
  • Season
  • Serve the duck in slices on a bed of mash, with cubed celeriac as garnish.

One thought on “Duck Aigre Douce with Roasted Garlic and Celeriac Mash

  1. Pingback: Bastille Day | Canal Cook

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