Pan-fried duck breast with creamed cabbage, chestnuts & caramelised pear

Pan-fried duck breast with creamed cabbage, chestnuts & caramelised pear

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(18 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 40 mins

More effort

Serves 2

A restaurant-quality dish by Gordon Ramsay made using easily found ingredients

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal1000
  • fat60g
  • saturates20g
  • carbs80g
  • sugars59g
  • fibre0g
  • protein41g
  • salt2.49g
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  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 garlic clove, left whole with skin on
  • couple thyme sprigs


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

For the cabbage

  • half small celeriac, diced



    The unsung hero of the vegetable world, knobbly, odd-shaped celeriac has a subtle, celery-like…

  • 85g smoked bacon, cut into small pieces



    Bacon is pork that has been cured one of two ways: dry or wet. It can be bought as both rashers…

  • 1 tsp thyme leaf
  • half Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 50ml double cream
  • 100g cooked chestnut pieces, sliced



    'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...' that kitsch old Nat King Cole song perfectly…

For the pear

  • 1 pear, peeled



    Like apples, to which they are related, pears come in thousands of varieties, of which only a…

  • 2 star anise
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 5 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
    Balsamic vinegar

    Balsamic vinegar

    bal-sam-ick vin-ee-gah

    True Balsamic vinegar is an artisan product from Modena, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and is made…


  1. Lightly score the skin of the duck breasts, then season well. Place a non-stick pan over a medium heat, then lay the duck in the pan, skin-side down. Cook until the fat starts to come from the duck, then add the garlic and thyme. Turn down the heat, then continue to cook for 15-20 mins, depending on the size of the duck breast, until the skin is really crisp and brown. As it cooks, pour the fat into a large pan for the cabbage.

  2. Flip the duck over, cook on the flesh side for 3 mins until browned, then turn off the heat (this will result in meat that is pink in the middle - cook for a few minutes longer if you like it well done). Leave the duck in the pan to rest.

  3. While the duck cooks, heat 1 tbsp of its fat in the other pan. Add the celeriac and bacon, then gently fry for 5 mins until the celeriac has browned and the bacon starts to crisp. Add the thyme, then the cabbage. Fry the cabbage for 5 mins until it starts to wilt. Add 100ml water and simmer for 5 mins until the water has evaporated and the celeriac is soft. Pour in the cream, stir to coat, then add the chestnuts and heat through. This can be done up to a day ahead - cook the celeriac in 1 tbsp vegetable oil instead of the duck fat and reheat with an extra splash of cream before serving.

  4. Cut the pear in half and use a melon baller or teaspoon to scoop out the core. Place a star anise in the cavity of each half.

  5. Place 3 tbsp of the icing sugar in a non-stick pan and heat to make a light amber caramel. Pour in the vinegar and bubble to make a sticky syrup. Dust the pear halves heavily with the rest of the icing sugar, then place the pan back on the heat. Cook the pear for 10 mins until brown and caramelised all over. This can be done up to a day ahead and reheated, adding a splash of water.

  6. To serve, slice each duck breast lengthways and dress the watercress in the olive oil and vinegar. Spoon a neat mound of cabbage on one side of each plate. Place a pear half, cut-side up, on the opposite side of the plate and drizzle the sticky sauce around it. Place the outside slices of duck breast on the cabbage and fan the rest of the duck over. Scatter the dressed watercress sprigs around the sides of the plates and serve.

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Comments, questions and tips

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12th Feb, 2020
Replaced watercress with rocket - similarly feisty taste. Cabbage recipe impractical for me - replaced with basmati rice. Worked well.
17th Feb, 2019
Really loved the cabbage and celeriac recipe. Will use again for other dishes.
14th Feb, 2015
Lovely meal! I cooked the pear for longer as suggested and was glad I did as it was 'just' cooked enough. I also added water to the sauce so I could get it out of the pan, this was a bit of a mistake because it leaked all over the rest of the food. It still tasted lovely.
26th Nov, 2012
Brilliant recipe, couldn't fault the taste of it all together.
16th Mar, 2011
we loved the cabbage and celeriac, together they made a delicious way to serve cabbage
13th Feb, 2011
This was delicious, and easy. I used hazelnuts instead of chestnuts, and cinnamon in the pear instead of star anise, as I couldn't get either of these ingredients at the time. I did add a drop of water to the icing sugar when melting it, kept it on a med heat and the sugar was still white when I added the balsamic, it turned out great. Cooked the pear for 20 mins though over a med-low heat with a lid on the pan. @ Donna - I didn't use the watercress, therefore no call for the white wine vinegar & olive oil which was to dress it :)
17th Jul, 2010
Where did the watercress come from?
27th Jun, 2010
This was really delicious, but I struggled with the caramel. I had three attempts but each time I added the balsamic it became full of hard lumpy toffee bits! Please can someone tell me where I'm going wrong?
30th Nov, 2009
Gorgeous, would cook the pear longer though
28th Oct, 2009
i would love to make this but can someone tell me when to add the white wine vinegar to the duck? and in step 5 do you not need to add some water to make the icing sugar melt? i really hope someone can help because it looks so delicious.


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