A delightful French dish of roasted duck breast and cream sauce served in a golden toasted bread box, garnished with poached apples.
Peel and core the apples, leaving them whole, and coat with lemon juice to stop the browning.
Carefully remove the skin from the duck using a sharp knife, but replace the now detached skin on the breasts.
Put them in a roasting dish and season (under the skin).
Cut all crust from the loaf, leaving a neat rectangular block.
You are now going to cut out the interior crumb leaving a box without a lid, with walls 6mm thick.
Using the bread knife, carefully cut along one of the long sides, leaving a 6mm wall, and judging how deep you need to go (6mm from bottom).
Do this on all four sides, making sure the corners meet neatly.
Remove the crumb, at first with your fingers, and then finishing off with a spoon to level off the bottom.
Roast the duck breasts for about 25 minutes in a medium oven.
The detached skins will baste and protect the breasts during cooking.
Bring the cider to simmering point and gently poach the apples until tender but still al dente (about 5 minutes - do not overcook).
Keep them warm on the serving dish.
Make a roux by melting the butter in a thick saucepan and stirring in the flour, cook gently for about 5 minutes but do not allow to start browning.
Add any liquor from the duck (but only a very little fat, of which there will be plenty) to the cider.
Add the hot cider little by little until you have a good coating sauce.
In a frying pan, shallow fry the bread box one side at a time in slightly smoking hot oil, gently splashing oil into the interior so that it cooks as well.
Fry until a good golden brown (this can be done 1 hour in advance and than reheated for a few times in the oven if necessary).
Put in the centre of an oval serving dish and arrange the apples around the outside.
Place the duck breasts on end inside the box discarding the skins.
Finish the sauce with the crème fraiche, then pour the sauce into the box until it is full.
Hand remaining sauce in a separate jug.
When serving you will need to display the complete dish first, then cut up the box.
One loaf will do up to about 8 portions.
Delicious with new or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.
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