A whole multitude of carbs will go well with this: mashed potatoes, polenta, baked small Rosevale potatoes, gratin dauphinois, chips, sauté potatoes, and so on…


Serves 4 as a main course
4 large unpeeled banana shallots
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Duck fat or vegetable oil
50g unsalted butter
100g fresh girolles, cleaned
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
100ml Madeira or port
100ml chicken or beef stock
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

 Set the oven to 175°C. Without peeling the shallots, cut each in half lengthways. Set an ovenproof, ideally non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. The pan needs to be big enough to accommodate all the shallots comfortably. Season the shallots well with salt and pepper. Add a dessertspoon of  duck fat or vegetable oil to the pan and place the shallots in carefully, flat-side down. Continue to cook the shallots until they have coloured perceptibly – this will take about 5 minutes. Add about half the butter to the pan and put in the oven without disturbing the shallots. Roast for about 35 minutes. A sharp skewer or pointed knife will easily pierce the shallot skin when done and the onions will be soft to the touch. Turn off the oven and leave the shallots inside with the door ajar. Put five plates in the oven to warm.

 Boil the peas in salted water and refresh in iced water or under a cold running tap. Drain and set aside.

 While the shallots are roasting, season the duck breasts well on both sides. Put them into a cold, non-stick frying pan, fat-side down, and place the pan over a medium heat. As the pan heats up, fat will render from the duck breasts. As this happens, turn the heat down and baste the duck often with this fat. When the skin has reached golden brown, after about 10 minutes, flip the breast over and cook on the fl esh side very gently for another minute or two. Turn the heat off and leave the breasts to rest in the pan. Transfer the duck breasts to one of the warmed plates to keep warm while you cook the mushrooms. If the duck has been cooked gently enough, it will be beautifully pink when rested, even though it has not been cooked in the oven.

 Put the vacated duck pan back on to a medium heat. Add the lardons and cook for a couple of minutes until they release some of their fat – for 2-3 minutes only. Add the girolles and thyme and turn up the heat a little. Sauté the mushrooms and bacon together and lightly season the pan. After about 5 minutes add the Madeira or port and cook away the liquid. When this is done, add the stock and reduce by half. Turn the heat down, add the peas, parsley and the remaining butter. Try to avoid boiling the sauce at this stage and check the seasoning. Keep it warm over the merest thread of heat.

 Remove the duck breasts from the oven and add any meat juices that have collected on the plate to the sauce. Carve each breast into five or six pieces and keep warm. Spoon the girolle and pancetta sauce on to the plates and top with the carved duck breasts. Add the halved, roasted shallots and serve.


Excerpt from Bruce’s Cookbook by Bruce Poole – originally published in FrenchEntrée Magazine


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