About this recipe:The contrast of sweet citrus, spicy chilli, earthy grains, tangy basil and tender duck is marvellous. This seems like an ambitious, unusual dish but, if you buy the ingredients in advance, it comes together quickly. It's worth the effort!
150g (5½oz) bulghur wheat
4 small boneless duck breasts, about 500g (1lb 2oz) in total
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1½ tbsp mild chilli powder
1½ tsp ground cumin
4 tbsp finely shredded fresh basil
grated zest of 1 orange
juice of 3 oranges
juice of 1½ lemons
2 tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp sugar
175ml (6fl oz) water
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
pepper to taste
225g (8oz) mixed salad greens
2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
¼ cucumber, finely diced
½ large tomato, finely diced
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Method Prep:45min › Cook:10min › Ready in:55min
Place the bulghur wheat in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove skin and fat from the duck breasts. Put the breasts in a dish and add half of the garlic, chilli powder, cumin and basil, the orange zest, juice of 1 orange, juice of ½ lemon and ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Mix well and turn the breasts to coat, then set aside to marinate.
To prepare the kumquats, cut a small slit in each one (do not cut all the way through). Place the kumquats in a saucepan with the juice of 1 orange, the sugar and water. Bring to the boil and simmer over a moderate heat, turning the kumquats so that they cook evenly, for 15–20 minutes or until they are just tender and the liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid.
Drain the soaked bulghur wheat and return it to the bowl. Add the spring onions, the remaining garlic, chilli powder, cumin, lemon juice and orange juice, 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil, and the coriander. Season to taste.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan. Remove the duck from its marinade and brown on both sides over a high heat. Cook for a further 4–5 minutes, turning the breasts frequently so that they don't stick. The meat will be rosy in colour in the centre (cook a little longer if you prefer it well done). Remove the breasts to a carving board and slice very thinly against the grain.
Arrange the salad leaves and remaining basil on four plates and add 4 kumquats to each. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and a little of the kumquat cooking liquid. Place the bulgur wheat salad in the centre and arrange the duck slices around it. Scatter over the cucumber and tomato, and serve immediately.
Some more ideas
*Instead of bulghur wheat, use quinoa, a nutty little grain that comes from Peru. Rinse 75g (2½oz) quinoa well (it is coated with a sticky substance), then place in a saucepan and add 125ml (4fl oz) boiling water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the grains are just tender and have absorbed the liquid. Fluff up with a fork, then dress as for the bulghur wheat. *Add a North African flavour to the marinade for the duck breasts. In addition to the spices above, add ¼ tsp each ground ginger, cinnamon and coriander and ¼ tsp mild or medium curry powder. Double the amount of lemon juice.
Oranges and kumquats are both excellent sources of vitamin C. They also contain compounds called coumarins, which are believed to help thin the blood, thus helping to prevent stroke and heart attacks.