I have lately started to do a thing that I call Russian Roulette shopping, where I go to Waitrose and just hurl whatever the fuck into my trolley. I don't want to make any boring sweeping generalisations about pregnancy and new motherhood, but it is just a fact that for the last three months I haven't been going to the shops with as gimlet an eye and as sharp a purpose as I might have done, say, six months ago.
So as I roll round the joint, cracking open huge yawns, I'm all, like celeriac? Sure, why not. Five aubergines? SURE. Some pigeon? WHAT THE HELL? Then I come home and look at it all and think "Oh God alive, what am I going to do with all this?
But something always emerges from the chaos in the end.
Rightly, this ought to be called Ready Steady Cook shopping. But Russian Roulette Shopping sounds better, even though the parallel doesn't work one bit. What do you want? I gave birth 10 days ago.
Last week, Russian Roulette shopping scored a real home run. In amongst the okra, dragon fruits and sugar snap peas, I had somehow purchased two duck breasts and a large pineapple. Do I remember buying them? No. Perhaps it ought to be called Amnesia shopping.
As luck would have it, my husband found a recipe for duck and pineapple in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Meat cookbook and set about it, like the trooper he temporarily is. He always turns to Hugh in moments of crisis because he believes the River Cottage Meat Book to be butch despite beating Hugh soundly at pool about 2 years ago. My husband is the most terrible hustler never trust him.
I was sceptical about the recipe. Duck and pineapple? Surely absolutely gross? No. Absolutely fantastic. Like something you would get in a very, very upmarket Chinese place. We ate it sort of laughing, going "I can't believe you made this," and "No I can't believe I made this, either. Cheers!"
We ate this with red rice (obviously) and some creamed cauliflower. But in truth, this would have been better with white rice and some broccoli sauteed with nam pla or oyster sauce.
So here we go:
Duck with pineapple, chilli and soy
This recipe can be found on p.366 of the River Cottage Meat Book
2 duck breasts
1/2 a pineapple
3 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tsp soft brown sugar or honey
3 garlic cloves, chopped
golfball sized bit of fresh ginger, finely sliced (we didn't have any and it was great anyway, but if you had some, that would be a bonus)
1 fresh red chilli, chopped. Seeds in or out. Up to you.
2 spring onions, chopped
few twists black pepper
Preheat your oven to 220C
1 Cut 2 slices from your pineapple half 2cm thick, cut into chunks and set aside. Chop up the rest and get the juice out, somehow. HFW says squeeze it with your fist. We have a juicer so FINALLY there a use for the enormous buggery thing, but if you are not stupid credulous twats like us and do not have a jucier, just do it the best way you can see how.
2 Make a marinade out of the pineapple juice (there ought to be about 3-4 tbsp) and the soy, sugar/honey, garlic, ginger, chilli and black pepper. Make some slashes in the duck breast and leave in the marinade. Ideally for a few hours, but 10 mins will make a difference.
3 Wipe the marinade off the breasts and sear them quickly in a hot pan in some veg oil. They need about 2-3 mins each side, just to brown the underside and crisp up the skin.
4 In a small roasting tin, make a bed out of the spring onions and lay the breasts on top and then pour over the marinade. The idea is that the breasts poach in the marinade so you need a roasting tin or oven proof dish that's quite small otherwise the marinade will just wash out everywhere and won't do an effective poaching job.
5 Roast these in your hot oven for 8-10 mins then remove from whatever they were cooking in and leave to rest somewhere warm. Do not chuck out the marinade.
6 In a small pan with some veg oil fry the pineapple chunks, turning occasionally so they get some colour. Sieve everything that's sitting in the duck-roasting-receptacle into your pineapple-chunk-frying pan and sizzle to reduce to a syrupy sauce. Poke the pineapple pieces around so they coat well.
7 Return the duck to the pan and turn a few times to coat. I always find it much more clement to slice things like duck breasts before eating, so you don't spend your evening sawing through a huge thunk of meat. Spoon over the sauce and pineapple chunks before serving.
Here is a picture of (part of) the baby because you know you love it you soppy fools.