Alex Rushmer’s Duck Breast with crackling, pickled cucumber & spiced tobacco caramel

This was one of the recipes we cooked at the Masterchef Cookalong at the recent BBC Good Food Show.

We made this recipe within the 30 minutes, except for the crackling as we didn’t have enough time for that. It is much simpler than I expected and the caramel is a deliciously fragrant invention, well done Alex.

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 Duck breasts, skin removed and reserved

150ml white wine vinegar

25g cater sugar

1 cinammon stick

1 star anise

3 cloves

pinch of smoky tobacco, such as Drum

watercress and squeeze of lemon to serve

1. Heat over to 180C/fan 160/gas 4. Sprinkle the duck skins with salt. Sandwich between two baking sheets and cook for 20 mins until crisp and brown. Pour off the fat and reserve.

2. Pour the white wine vinegar into a bowl. Add 25g caster sugar and stir until dossolved. Add the cucumber and leave to stand for 25 mins. Drain, rinse in water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Reserve.

3. Heat 150ml water in a  pan with the golden caster sugar until dissolved. Add the cinammon, star anise, cloves and tobacco. Bring gently to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins then strain through a sieve into a clean saucepan.  Boil the mixture hard to a caramel, coating consitency.

4. Season the duck breasts with salt. Heat the reserved duck fat in a frying pan. Add the duck breasts and cook for 4 mins, turn and cook for a further 3 mins. Remove from the heat and rest for 5 mins before slicing.

5. Arrange the sliced duck on warmed serving plates. Spoon over a little of the caramel sauce. Finish with the crackling, a few slices of the pickled cucumber and a few watercress leaves dressed with lemon juice.

Read about my exploits at the Masterchef Challenge here.

Alex Rushmer's Duck breast with cracklingAlex Rushmer's Duck breast with crackling

Alex Rushmer's Duck breast with crackling

The BBC Good Food Show – Masterchef Challenge

The Good Food Show is a massive showcase of food and drink producers held in the massive hangar at the NEC in Birmingham. The Masterchef Challenge was added to the show recently as a crowd puller and a way to further promote the Masterchef brand.

Miele, the sponsors of  the Masterchef Challenge invited some bloggers to join in the fun, which was to include a Masterclass with  Matt Follas, a cookalong with Alex Rushmer and Dr Tim Kinnaird and to top it all, to compete in the Masterchef Invention Test. After conferring with some twitter friends, they convinced me that it would be fun so I signed up.

The day began on the train to Birmingham with @memalee and @fussfreeflavours. MiMi was saying how people were practising and memorising recipes prior to doing the challenge, but I was totally unprepared, didn’t have any ideas for recipes and thought it too late so I would have to wing it.

The NEC was heaving, didn’t know there were so many ardent foodies around. It also became really obvious that we weren’t serious enough foodies as we didn’t bring our wheelie bag and miscellaneous Good Food Show merchandise.

Challenge #1, the Rosemary Chocolate Mousse Masterclass with Matt Follas of Wild Garlic fame

I had no idea we would be doing this on stage with an audience, slightly scary. He was ably assisted by our new best friend Edd Kimber (@theboywhobakes) who recently won the Great British Bake Off. Backstage, we were given a recipe to prepare ourselves and were led out to our work stations and to meet our sous chef. Then we had to go backstage again while Andi Peters did his bit to warm up the crowd before we were led out again, in single file.

Masterchef Challenge Masterclass Matt Follas Edd Kimber
Masterchef Challenge Masterclass Matt Follas Edd Kimber

We kicked off with instructions as per the recipe but as they were waffling so much, I wasn’t paying much attention of instructions. We were supposed to be watching the screens in front of us to see what the pros were doing but the camera was roaming the crowd and not showing what Edd or Matt was doing in front of us. At this point, I started to do my own thing, which ends up with some underwhipped warm cream, resulting in a very runny mousse. Looked pretty but although not succesful it was rather yummy. Get the chocolate mousse recipe here.

Masterchef Challenge BBC Good Food Show

Challenge #2 – Cookalong with 2 other Masterchef finalists Alex Rushmer and Dr Tim Kinnaird

These two make a great double act and had the audience in stitches for this cookalong. We made Alex’s Duck Breast with pickled cucumber and spiced tobacco caramel and Tim’s Spicy Hot Chocolate but without the biscuits as there wasn’t enough time.


Masterchef Challenge BBC Good Food Show Alex Rushmer Dr Tim Kinnaird

As before, Andi was waffling away while Alex was slowly explaining the cucumber pickles. Again, I wasn’t paying much attention as we couldn’t really hear what they were saying. I started cutting up my cucumber into circles instead of batons as Alex was doing. Well, too late, I couldn’t uncut them.

Then we used the gloriously sharp Kin Knives to score the duck breast and fried it skin side down. Wasn’t too sure about the right heat as the duck fat kept spitting but saved in a nick of time from burning. We also made the really clever Spicy Tobacco Caramel that Alex created, yes that is using real tobacco as a flavouring. The caramel smelt amazing, especially with the cinammon, cloves and star anise. You can recreate this with this Duck Breast recipe.

Secret Ingredient -Tobacco (Photo by Meemalee)
Secret Ingredient -Tobacco (Photo by Meemalee)

MiMi's beautifully pink duck breasts (Photo by Meemalee)
MiMi’s beautifully pink duck breasts (Photo by Meemalee)

Masterchef Challenge BBC Good Food Show Alex Rushmer Dr Tim Kinnaird
MiMi and Helly’s finished dish

Masterchef Challenge BBC Good Food Show Alex Rushmer Dr Tim Kinnaird

In between sessions, we went to see Sarah at Bray’s Cottage for some of her amazing Pork Pies. If you haven’t tried her Onion Marmalade Pork Pie, you haven’t lived. You can buy them online here.

Bray's Cottage Pork Pies

We also dropped by to taste Dr Tim’s lovely multi coloured macarons. We scoffed down the passion fruit macarons really quickly so didn’t get a chance to take a pic.

Tim Kinnaird's macarons

Tim Kinnairds Gold Brownies
Tim Kinnairds Gold Brownies (photo by Meemalee)

Lunch at the Masterchef Restaurant

A short respite from cooking, we had a bite to eat the Masterchef Restaurant where all the dishes are recipes of previous Masterchef participants. The kitchen was a bit confused which meant we had to wait ages for main courses but the food when it arrived was fab.

Masterchef Restaurant at the BBC Good Food Show
Salmon Ceviche by Andi Peters

Masterchef Restaurant at the BBC Good Food Show
Dandelion Salad

Masterchef Restaurant at the BBC Good Food Show
Monkfish and Butternut Squash Fondant Lisa Faulkner

Masterchef Restaurant at the BBC Good Food Show
Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini Chris Gates

Masterchef Restaurant at the BBC Good Food Show
Poached Pear with Masala Chai Ice Cream Dhruv Baker

The highlight of the day was still to come, the dreaded Masterchef Invention Test.…cont’d