Duck with Petit Pois, Tarragon & Madeira

From Lidgates, The Meat Cookbook by Danny Lidgate and Hattie Ellis

Duck makes a delectable dinner for two. Duck, peas and tarragon are a great trio and the sophisticated dryness of Madeira sets them off well, though dry sherry or white wine would work fine instead.

Serves 2

  • 2 duck breasts (about 200g each)
  • 50ml Madeira (or dry sherry or white wine)
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g frozen petit pois
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • plus 1 tsp finely chopped leaves
  • a squeeze of lemon juice


  1. Take the duck breasts out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking so they aren’t fridge-cold when they go into the pan. Season the meat on both sides with flaky sea salt and a good grind of black pepper.
  2. Put the breasts skin-side down in a cold frying pan. No need for fat: this renders out of the breasts as they heat up and cook. Turn the heat on to medium-high and cook until the skin is crisp and browned (about 10 minutes).
  3. Remove the duck breasts from the pan and pour out the fat into a small bowl (cool and keep covered in the fridge, ready for roast potatoes). Put the duck back in the pan, skin-side up. Add the Madeira to the pan and let it bubble up to evaporate the alcohol. Pour in the chicken stock and cream, then stir in the petits pois and tarragon sprigs. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Continue to cook the duck on a medium-high heat,  giving it another 5 minutes for medium rare, or 7 minutes for well done. Remove the duck from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Turn the heat up higher and bubble away the liquid harder until it has reduced to a nice sauce. Squeeze a little lemon on the peas to balance out the sweetness. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Cut into one duck breast to check it is done to your liking; if not, put back in the pan with the sauce and cook for a little longer. Serve the duck cut into thin sliced, on an angle, placed over the peas and sauce, scattered with a little extra tarragon, and with new potatoes.