(serves 4)

Figs have a very short season so grab them while you can to make this very tasty duck dish.


550g (4) duck breasts with skin on (trimmed)
1 tbsp black peppercorns (freshly cracked in a mortar with a pestle)
250ml (1 cup) balsamic vinegar
140g-300g (4) fresh figs (halved) *

250ml (1 cup) chicken stock or duck stock
1 tsp brown sugar
20g (2 tbsp) butter (diced and cold)
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chervil sprigs


  • Preheat oven to 190ºC.
  • Using a small sharp knife score duck skin with a crisscross pattern. Lay peppercorns out on a plate and place duck breasts, skin side down into peppercorns. Pat peppercorns into skin.
  • Heat a heavy based fry pan to hot. To render fat from duck place duck in the dry pan, skin side down and sear for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Tip off the duck fat as it collects in the pan (reserve for another use).
  • Turn duck breast over and quickly brown on meat side. Transfer duck (in fry pan if it is ovenproof) to oven and roast for 10-15 minutes or until duck is cooked medium rare. (Cooking time will vary according to the size (thickness) of the duck breast.
  • While duck is cooking pour balsamic vinegar into a small, heavy based. non-reactive pan. Add sugar and over a low heat stir until sugar is dissolved. Add figs cut side down and poach gently for 5 minutes. Turn figs over and poach for a further 5 minutes or until tender and cooked through.
  • Remove duck from oven, place in a warmed dish and rest away from heat covered with a heavy tea towel for 5-8 minutes.
  • Pour off fatty pan juices from duck pan. Place pan onto stove top and deglaze pan with 125ml (1/2 cup) of fig poaching liquid. Add chicken stock, bring to the boil then simmer to reduce by half. Add butter piece by piece and whisk to give sauce a sheen. Taste for seasoning.
  • Slice each duck breast on an angle into 4 or 5 pieces. Place each serve in the centre of a large dinner plate. Pour over balsamic sauce and garnish with poached figs and a sprig of chervil.

*The weight of the figs is variable depending on the variety of fig used.