Grilled duck 'magret' (fat breast ) with sweet & spicy couscous

main course

Ingredients for two / four (about 25-30 min.)

couscous: medium grain, 65g/pers.

1 large onion, diced

Ras-el-Hanout ground spices &cumin (if you can't find Ras-el-Hanout mix, mix ground cinnamon, ground cumin, Jamaican pepper, and cloves).

a little lemon juice, 4-6 cloves, a pinch of ground cinnamon/ginger

1/2 to 2/3 aubergine, diced

2 to 3 carrots, diced

1/2 to 1 red pepper, diced

olive oil

balsamic vinegar/cider vinegar

salt & pepper

1 duck 'magret' (the breast of ducks that are force-fed for foie gras, and therefore surrounded in good-healthy-thick fat [:-)] to produce juices during baking)

as you can see on this picture, ther's 1 good cm of fat on the magret, now, you should leave it on, but trim it nicely, so it's regular on the sides, and keep the bits of fat thus separated (you're going to need them).

1 handful French beans (lean/green beans) cut in smaller pieces

1 diced small white turnip/parsnip (optional)

a handful of raisins/sultanas

Cooking It - summary : 1) marinate the raisins, 2) get the couscous ready, 3) trim the meat, 4) stir-fry the mix of vegs, 5) grill the magret, 6) finish the couscous (when meat's about to be ready).

In a bowl, pour some hot water (enough to cover the raisins), a pinch of Ras-El-Hanout spices, a few cloves, some cinnamon and ginger, a squash of lemon juice, and then leave the raisins to marinate in that liquid.

In a second bowl, you should prepare the couscous grain: 1 part boiling water/1 part couscous + a pinch of salt, you cover it and leave it to soak it up. After 3 min., it should be nice and fluffy and easy to separate the grains with a fork.

Prepare the magret for its cooking, there are two main ways of doing it : if you're going to barbecue the magret, then you can cut it in thin slices across (each retaining its 1cm of fat so it doesn't dry out. Or you can keep it whole and either bake it or barbecue it. Should you bake it, make sure you put it in a hot oven in a nonstick dish, flesh facing down (so that the fat, when roasting, melts and dripples over the meat, keeping it moist - that's a delicate operation, as the magret should be 'rosé' (pink in the middle), that should take approx. 10-15 min.), on the barbecue, you'll have to keep turning it round.

In a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil, throw in the fat trimmings and roast them until it smells nicely of duck fat , you can then add the diced onion (don't let it go brown!), with the diced carrots, the diced pepper, the diced aubergine, and the French beans last. Add the ingredients one by one, and make sure they all get coloured slightly (except the onions). Stir-fry them for a few minutes  and a good generous pinch of Ras-El-Hanout spices. It's important that the vegetables should be thinly diced, it's much better. Like in a stir-fry, you stir it up for a few minutes, vegs should remain crisp and slightly undercooked, you can then add the raisins and carry on stirring. You should then season them with a pich of sugar (if it's not sweet enough) and then you pour in a spoonful of balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar or a bit of both). If this first mix seems too oily (duck fat) you cant take some away, but make sure the pan juices remain in. At the last minute, stir in the couscous, season to taste, and serve with the grilled magrets.

Bon appétit!

Ratings : fairly easy to prepare, and a good mix of French 'terroir' with an exotic touch