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Duck, Crispy Crackling, Braised French Lentils

This is sure to convert the lentil naysayers out there!

July 25, 2017

Duck, Crispy Crackling, Braised French Lentils

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ingredients for six
french lentil braise
250g French style green lentils
175gm piece flat pancetta
200gm brown onion
100gm celery
150gm leek
200gm carrot
2 x medium cloves garlic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
375ml soft red wine
200ml chicken stock
200gm baby spinach leaves
50gm unsalted butter
30gm flat leaf parsley
salt flakes and black pepper
duck and crackling
6 x medium size duck breasts


  1. Place lentils in saucepan of UNSALTED boiling water. Simmer for 15 minutes, until nearly cooked. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, remove skin from pancetta and discard. Cut meat into ½cm x 1cm batons. Peel and finely chop onion. Dice celery and leek into 1cm pieces. Peel and slice carrot if thin otherwise cut into 1cm dice. Crush garlic.
  3. Place large saucepan over medium heat. Cook pancetta in oil for 5 to 7 minutes, until crisp and golden.
  4. Add prepared vegetables with garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 8 to 10 minutes to soften.
  5. Turn heat to high. Add red wine, allow to bubble briefly.
  6. Add stock and cooked lentils. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until lentils are tender and only a small amount of liquid (sauce) remains.
  7. Turn off heat.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
  9. Meanwhile, prepare duck. Score 1cm diamond pattern through skin into fat. Pat duck breast dry and season with salt.
  10. Place large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, place duck in pan, skin side down. Fry for about 4 minutes each side, until skin golden and cooked ‘medium’.
  11. Remove duck from pan. When cool enough to handle, gently pull skin away from meat. Place breasts on warm plate and cover to rest.
  12. Cut skin for crackling into ½ cm wide strips. Place on baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
  13. Add spinach leaves with butter to lentils over medium heat. Stir occasionally to wilt spinach. Roughly chop parsley and add to lentils. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat.
  14. Cut breasts into thin slices. Spoon lentils in pile onto warm dinner plate. Top with sliced duck and scatter crackling over the top.
  15. Serve immediately.

cooks notes:

  • Duck breasts can be bought individually at good butchers.
  • Test duck for doneness by pressing meat with finger tips. If the meat is soft (like a feather pillow) it is still rare. The more the meat springs back to the touch (like a latex pillow) the more well-cooked it is.
  • Save any duck fat from frying or crackling and use to roast potatoes another time.
  • Whole Green lentils if from France are labeled ‘Puy’ Lentils. The same product from Australia is called ‘French style lentils’.
  • Whole black or red lentils can be substituted in place of green. Don’t use split lentils which will cook to a ‘porridge’.
  • Pancetta is cured, non-smoked pork belly. It’s fatty so is a fantastic crisp and flavoursome addition to the lentils. Bacon can be used in place but will add a slight smokiness.
  • Try this with a roasted chicken, pan fried pork fillet or lamb cutlets in place of duck if preferred.

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Meet the team

Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell
Tracey Cotterell


Tracey has been in the food industry since completing her Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management in 1982 in the UK. She worked for an outside catering company in London, then joined her parents in rural West Sussex running

View Tracey’s full profile.

Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell


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