James Street Cookery School: Niall McKenna's Duck with quince jelly and polenta

Duck with quince jelly – it's a lean meat that's full of flavour
Niall McKenna

THIS week's recipes are two really lovely winter warmers – duck with quince jelly and, as a side to serve with that, polenta.

Duck is always on the menu in our restaurants but it really is so easy to cook at home. Some people baulk at cooking duck because they think it can be greasy, but it is actually a lean meat that is full of flavour. Paired with the homemade quince jelly (which is a great to keep in the fridge), it’s a real treat on a cold evening. Quince fruit can be quite tart but when cooked down, the fruit releases a wonderful aroma and creates a beautiful rose-coloured jelly.

Polenta is a great alternative to potatoes, rice or pasta. Lower in calories and gluten free, polenta can be used in a few ways but for this recipe, we have made a rich mash substitute. Give them both a go and I promise, you won’t look back.


(Serves 4)

4 x 180g duck breast, trimmed of fat and skin scored

100g quince jelly (see recipe below)

1 tablesp juniper berries

For the quince jelly:

1 lb of sugar (caster or granulated) for every 1 pint of quince pulp you reduce


Firstly, to make the quince jelly take five quince fruit, clean and chop roughly. Add to a pan and cover with water until the fruit is soft and like a pulp. Strain through a muslin cloth, to keep the liquid as clear as possible. This can be done overnight, the slower the better.

Measure the liquid and for every pint add in 500g sugar. Place the liquid in a pan, adding in the sugar on a gentle heat until all is dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes once the sugar is dissolved and then leave to cool. Place in a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.

For the duck, start by preparing the meat by removing any excess fat / sinew with sharp scissors. Score the skin side with a sharp knife.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and cook the duck breast skin side down for eight minutes. Once the duck is golden brown, turn over and cook for a further three minutes until cooked medium. Remove from heat, cover in tinfoil and leave to rest.

Add the quince jelly to 125ml water and the juniper berries and bring to a simmer until the jelly is dissolved and the liquid becomes thicker, which takes about two minutes.

Take the duck and slice and serve with the quince and berry juice on top.


170g instant polenta

500ml single cream

black pepper

sea salt


Add the cream and 500ml of water to a pot and season with salt and pepper before bringing to the boil. Add in the polenta and cook through, stirring until the mix becomes a smooth paste. Place the polenta in a large bowl to share and serve alongside the duck.

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