Duck breast with caramelised chicory and lentils

Rich duck, earthy lentils and the bitter-sweet flavours of chicory combine beautifully in Jun Tanakas recipe
By Jun Tanaka
Duck breast with caramelised chicory and lentils
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4 as a starter, 2 as a main
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the lentils

  • 200 g umbrian lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 halved carrot
  • 1 halved onion
  • 1 rashers streaky bacon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon powder

For the caramelised chicory

  • 40 g unsalted butter
  • 2 heads chicory
  • 4 tsp caster sugar
  • 30 g fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 oranges, juice only

For the duck

  • 2 duck breast

To serve

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 4 chopped spring onions

Tips and Suggestions

no oil is added to the frying pan when cooking the duck because there is already enough fat on the duck. This fat renders during cooking, keeping the duck moist and preventing it from sticking to the pan.


1. For the lentils: tip the lentils into a large saucepan, cover with cold water, place over a high heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the water comes to the boil, drain the lentils and add fresh cold water to cover.

2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion and bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden and caramelised in places then scrape these into the lentils, along with the whole garlic clove, thyme and chicken bouillon powder.

3. Return the lentils to a high heat, stir and bring almost to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer gently for half an hour, or until tender, taking care not to overcook them. Once the lentils are cooked, remove from the heat and leave to cool in their cooking liquor.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

5. For the caramelised chicory: melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Arrange the chicory in a single layer in the pan, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and fry for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to turn the chicory, sprinkle with the sugar and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the orange juice and cook for another 6-8 minutes (the chicory should still be slightly crunchy).

5. For the duck: season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper and place skin-side down in a cold, dry ovenproof frying pan.

6. Place over a medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes without moving, or until the skin is golden brown and caramelised in places. Turn the duck breasts and transfer to the oven, skin-side-up, for 5 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

7. To serve, drain the lentils and pick out and discard the onion, carrot, bacon, thyme and garlic. Stir the olive oil, vinegar and spring onions into the lentils and spoon onto serving plates. Carve the duck breast and arrange it next to the lentils and finish with the caramelised chicory.

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