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James Martin Recipes

1920s Duck and Orange with Duchess Potatoes



One of the most fun cooks of the series – trying to fit three reasonably sized middle-aged blokes in the kitchen of a moving train proved hilarious for my director and producer. This is a real classic that perfectly suited one of the best train journeys you can make in the UK on the Belmond Royal Scotsman. Chef Nick Nairn was in his element.


  • 4 small duck breasts, fat scored
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 400g boiled potatoes, riced
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • ½ shallot, diced
  • a few sprigs of tarragon
  • 25g salted butter, melted


  • 1 orange
  • 25ml brandy
  • 25ml Cointreau (orange liqueur)
  • 200ml veal jus
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/400°F/gas 6.

2. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

3. Place the duck breasts, skin-side down, in a non-stick ovenproof frying pan over medium heat.

4. Cook for 3-4 minutes to render the fat and until the skin is golden.

5. Season well, then turn the breasts over and transfer to the oven to cook for 4 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven, transfer the duck breasts to a board and leave to rest for 6 minutes.

7. Set the pan with the cooking juices aside.

8. Meanwhile, warm the potatoes in a pan, beat in the nutmeg along with some salt and pepper to season, then beat in the egg yolks.

9. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, then pipe 2 small nests, each with a hollow in the middle, onto the lined baking sheet.

10. Divide the tomatoes, shallots and tarragon sprigs between the potato nests, spooning them into the middles, then brush the potato with the melted butter.

11. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, until golden and hot.

12. Next, make the sauce. Finely zest the orange, setting the zest aside.

13. Peel, then segment the orange, cutting away any pith and reserving the juices.

14. Drain the fat from the duck pan, keeping all the meat juices in the pan.

15. Add the brandy and Cointreau, then flambé to burn off the alcohol, tipping the pan gently and carefully to ignite.

16. When the flames have died down, stir in the orange zest then pour in the veal jus.

17. Bring to the boil over medium heat and simmer to reduce by half.

18. Whisk in the butter, taste to check the seasoning, then pour in the reserved orange juice and segments and any resting juices from the duck.

To serve, slice the duck and divide between two plates. Pop a duchess potato alongside each and spoon over the sauce.

For more recipes like this, James Martin’s Islands to Highlands is out now.


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