Orange and chilli glazed duck with roasted brussels sprouts, fennel, thyme, carrot and candied walnuts by Barry Bryson of Cater Edinburgh

The holiday season is just glorious, but it is hectic too. There is so much going on, and for some reason, everyone feels like they have to be the perfect host more than ever at this time of the year. It is important that you take the time to enjoy the festive period and not spend the whole time stressing in the kitchen. This is why you should focus on having your lists and timings all planned out, prepare as much in advance as possible and don’t panic.

The memories I treasure most now are the simple ones, my mum’s chicken gravy, mince pies for breakfast and now the bones I get for my dog, Vera. Tradition is an important part of Christmas Day and for most, turkey is an important part of that, however it isn’t to everyone’s taste. This is a moreish dish with loads of festive flavours that acts as a perfect alternative to turkey, or even a festive dinner party in the run up to the big day. Tangy orange, sweet nuts, savoury sprouts, aromatic fennel and tender juicy duck meat all combine to create a dish with loads of character. Even better it’s one you can create pretty quickly in under an hour, add big bowls of crispy roast potatoes to serve on the side and you have a hearty festive feast.

Serves 4


2 Gressingham duck breasts

3 large fresh oranges, zested and juiced

2 red chillies, finely diced

400g brussels sprouts, peeled and halved

135g caster sugar

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 medium sized bulb of fresh fennel

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

75ml of pineapple juice

1 heaped tsp corn flour

20g cold butter, cubed

100g whole walnuts

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

2 banana shallots, finely diced

1 vegetable or chicken stock cube

Vegetable oil

Rock salt and pepper

½ fresh lemon

Olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6

2. Start by preparing the sweet crispy nuts that will give this dish a great texture contrast to the tender duck meat. In a sauce pan add 125ml of cold water and 75g of the caster sugar and bring to a gentle simmer, over the next ten minutes dip your walnuts in and out of the bubbling liquor for

30 seconds at a time. The caramel process will begin and after ten minutes your walnuts will be sticky and very hot.

3. Lift them out carefully and let them cool for a few minutes. Next in a frying pan, heat 15ml of vegetable oil and add the sticky nuts and fry off for a few minutes. Lift them out of the pan carefully, discard any oil and let them sit on a tray to crisp up and cool.

4. Next make the carrot puree. Place the carrots and shallots in a pan, soften gently for a few minutes in a little oil and then just cover with a light vegetable or chicken stock. Simmer for 25 minutes with some greaseproof paper pressed down on top to as a lid. Remove from the heat and puree in a food processor. For an extra silky puree, pass this mix through a sieve. Heat gently in a pan and season shortly before serving

5. Next, finely slice the fennel, trimming out the fibrous stalk. Place the thin ribbons of raw fennel into some cold water with a squeeze of lemon.

6. Next get your duck breasts out of the fridge and place skin side down on a clean chopping board. Rub your chopped garlic and a little rock salt over the meat side of the breast, a splash of olive oil and massage in. Turn your duck over and score a few neat lines into the skin side, not so deep you touch the meat, you are simply scoring the thick skin. Now cut each duck breast in half width ways, this creates four portions. Leave the duck to one side to come up to room temperature.

7. Next prepare the sprouts. Run a knife around the tapered part of the sprout to trim it and allow the first couple of outer leaves to fall off. Cut the sprouts in half. In a frying pan heat some olive oil and fry the flat side of the sprout for a couple of minutes to make a nice pan-charred effect and place them onto an oven tray and put to one side.

8. Next you want to make the glaze for the duck breast. Begin by adding the zest and the juice from the oranges into a pan. Add the pineapple juice and chilli, bring up to a simmer and add the remaining caster sugar. Simmer until it has reduced by one third in a separate bowl, add the corn flour to 10ml of cold water and stir to make a paste. Whisk this into the bubbling orange sauce and it will thicken and look glossy. Let it cook for a couple of minutes then drop in the butter over the top and leave to one side.

9. Now cook the duck breast. In a cold non-stick frying pan place your duck breasts skin side down and start to heat the pan. As the pan heats up, your scored duck breasts will render and the fat will melt away but let them cook off without moving or turning them in a pan for at least five minutes. Once the skin is all golden and crispy and has rendered down, turn the duck breast over and let cook in the hot oil. Cook for another two to three minutes.

10. Place the duck breasts on a tray with the sprouts and place in the pre-heated oven for another two to three minutes. Take the duck breast out, cover with clean tea towel and leave to rest.

11. Finally heat the sauce, gently whisking in the butter as it heats back up. Add a splash of cold water if it’s too thick.

12. Drain the water off the fennel.

13. Re-heat the sprouts in a pan for another few minutes whilst the duck rests.

14. You are now ready for plating, cut each duck half breast in half again and you’ll see a lovely pink centre and crispy outer. Layer the fennel over the plate, add your roast sprouts and drizzle with some glaze. Next add carrot puree, then your duck pieces, candied nuts and garnish with a few thyme flowers. Drizzle over the remaining sweet and sticky sauce, season as you wish and serve immediately.

For more information, visit: Instagram: @chef.caterer.edinburgh Twitter: @CaterbyBarryB