As a small girl, I used to go foraging for chestnuts with my father. We would bring them home and roast them over the open fire in a special pan. This dish conjures up warm feelings of the festive season approaching.


Depending on your appetite and the size of the birds you will need 1 – 2 breasts each, adjust the cooking time if they are particularly small (or big!).

For all the CGUK ladies who have some duck from their recent shoot days with us, this recipe is a fantastic idea!


2 – 4 Duck breasts, (Mallard)

Rapeseed oil

Perfect Yorkshire Salt

300g Whole sweet chestnuts, fresh, tinned or vac packed

3 Garlic cloves

40g Butter

Double cream

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt

200mls Red wine

3 Large red plums

2 Heaped teaspoons fine-cut

Seville marmalade

Light brown sugar



Rub the duck breasts with rapeseed oil. Then roll them in a little Perfect Yorkshire Salt. This is something you can buy in a jar ready to go from Steenbergs, but is basically a mix of sea salt, black pepper, thyme, sage, oregano, mint, and parsley. So, I suppose you could make your own, but this is a cheat I really like. Having made sure the meat is well coated, allow to relax at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to cook the duck, heat a dry, heavy-bottomed frying pan to very hot. Gently lay the duck breasts in the pan and sear by cooking for about 2 minutes on each side. Place on a baking tray and pop into the top of the oven at 220°c for 6-8 minutes, depending on their size. Rest on a wooden board for 10 minutes.


Pour 200mls of good red wine (a Cotes de Rhone or Bordeux would work very well with this dish) into a little saucepan. Heat until bubbling and keep it going pretty hard till reduced by half.

Rinse, quarter and de-stone the plums and add to the reduced wine. Simmer until the plums are soft and falling apart. Remove from the heat and rub through a fine sieve back into the pan. Now keep it gently warm and add your marmalade. Stir frequently, and when fully dissolved, give it a taste. If it’s a bit tart, add light brown sugar, half a teaspoon at a time, until it tastes perfect!

Chestnut Purée:

Make a slit in the outer shell on the flat side of each chestnut from half way down to the top with a sharp knife. Place on a baking tray and roast in the top of the hot oven, pre-heated to 220oC for 15 minutes or so. They will smell delicious and have split slightly open when ready. When they are in season you really must try this way instead of opening a tin. Take the flesh out of each chestnut while still warm and add to a small saucepan with a little water. If you are using readily prepared chestnuts, add them directly to the pan with the water. Add the 3 cloves of very finely chopped garlic and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan and just add small quantities of water if it starts looking dry. Add the butter and allow to melt into the mixture. Purée with a stick blender before beating in a tablespoon of double cream, pinch of sea salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe created and written by Esther Veerman, aka The Country Cook