The Cottage Smallholder

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Easy chic recipes: Duck breasts roasted on a bed of apricots

Photo: Duck breasts in apricot sauce

Photo: Duck breasts in apricot sauce

We are lucky to know a few people who regularly travel outside our county. Jocelyn and Miles to France and Tessa and Colin to Cornwall and Belgium. J and M bring back fresh garlic, Lesieur mayonnaise (thank you Amelee!), garlic granules (these are much stronger and better than the ones available in the UK. They also will buy wine and tobacco. Real contraband. T and C visit Cornwall every month and bring back superb spicy beef sausages and fat duck breasts from Trago Mills. Cornish delights that they yearn for from their small East Anglian village and now we long for them too. Once a year they visit that notorous ‘Tobacco Road’ just over the border in Belgium and return with packs of tobacco that tastes so sweet.

We usually cure and smoke the duck breast bounty. They are great sliced and flash fried to fill naughty waist expanding baguettes. Coupled with home grown salad leaves and a good oil and vinegar dressing, this is a treat lunch to die for. They also are handy for an off the cuff starter, just a few slices with some salad leaves and warm crusty bread on the side.

This month we are freezer trawling. I found duck breasts in my nets on Saturday.
“Let’s not get a joint for roasting on Sunday. It would be interesting to give these the Apricot Treatment.”

This method is the easiest, most delicious of our simple recipes. We often find duck legs on offer and have posted the original recipe here. Duck breasts are superb roasted on fresh plums so we thought we’d try combining duck breasts with apricots. They were delicious and tasted as if Danny had added new special ingredients to the sauce. In fact he hadn’t even checked the duck leg recipe and just used the tinned apricots. The apricot sauce with added duck juice and fat was superb, magically rich and light. Despite the photo, ideally serve with green beans or garden peas and mini roast potatoes or mashed potatoes

Easy chic recipes: Duck breasts roasted on a bed of apricots


  • Two duck breasts
  • Small tin of apricot halves in juice (not syrup)
  • Seasoning


Preheat oven to 220c (200c fan). Cook for fifteen minutes and then reduce to 180c (160c fan) for 45-55 mins (rest for 10 minutes in a warm place)

  1. Select a small ovenproof dish that will hold the apricot halves and the duck breasts snugly.
  2. Open the tin of apricot halves and pour them into the oven proof dish. Arrange them so that they are just one layer deep.
  3. Place the duck breasts on top of the apricots with skin side up so that they will brown.
  4. Put the dish in the centre of the oven to roast for 15 mins 220c (200c fan) and then for 45-55 mins at 180c (160c fan). If you have svelte duck breast they may only need 35 minutes, if you have very chunky ones they might need an hour. So check them after 30 minutes.
  5. When the breasts are browned and tender set them aside in a warm place whilst you prepare your green vegetables and liquidise the sauce with a stick blender.

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  1. thank you dmc – I’ve read about using borax as an alternative eco friendly addition to cleaning but haven’t looked into it much & didn’t know where you could get it. In the same section Tesco also do a large bicarb pack that can be used for cleaning.

  2. You can get borax in tesco,look in the eco cleaning section.

    You will need:

    1x bar of pure soap
    1x saucepan {an old one if you have it}
    1x cup{4oz}soda crystals
    1/2{2oz} cup borax
    1 pint water
    1 large plastic clean bucket
    wooden spoon or a steel spoon

    I use the American cup for measuring as I find it easier.


    Grate the bar of soap with a cheese grater and place the grated soap in the saucepan with the pint of water. Heat this while stirring until the soap dissolves. Take the saucepan off the heat.

    Take the bucket and half fill with water.{approx 9 pints or just over 5 litres}
    Add the soda crystals{the fine type is the best available in Asda}and the borax{can get this from the internet or chemist} and stir until disolved. Then add the soap mixture from the saucepan and stir this until it’s fully dissolved.
    This will thicken as it cools (it’s really more of a ‘sludge’ than a liquid!)
    Use one cup per wash.
    I then transfer the liquid into bottles{old 6 pint clean plastic milk bottles work well}using a funnel.
    You may need to add more or less water depending on the consistency you want.
    Adding some essential oil makes a nice scent.

    Note: this liquid does NOT make suds. It has no foaming agent that is usually added to commercial liquids. Despite this it’s an excellent “green” cleaner that contains no phosphates.

    Give it a try, it took me about 30 mins to make 10 pints or just over 6 litres.

  4. Cathie_W

    Hello Heidi

    I would be very interested in the recipe for home made washing up powder/liquid and would be delighted if you would post it here
    Kind regards

  5. Hi there, I have had problems trying to comment on this post. Then when I went to sign out the computer went made and opened hundreds of pages of the cottagesmallholder! Think my pc has gone mad and loves your website!

  6. Sounds great, Fiona.
    I regulary use your recipes and really enjoy them.
    In fact it was whilst looking for a recipe for “blackberry jam/jelly” that I came across your site and have checked it regulary since.

    Changing the subject here but I know that you are always trying to economise Fiona and was wondering if you had thought about making your own washing powder/liquid to save money.
    Times are hard for a lot of us at the moment and I had been trying to think of ways to save money myself.

    I made the liquid version and was amazed at the results and it was so easy to make.

    The cost was approx 49p to make approx 10 pints {I measured in pints as I used old 6pint milk bottles to store it in}

    Let me know if you or anyone else wants the recipe
    and I will post it.

  7. Ah I love duck! Reading this has made me really hungry. I think we’ve got the remnants of last night’s casserole for dinner. We were lucky enough to get a decent sized slow cooker for Christmas and I love it! Thank you for sharing.

  8. I think I’ll add duck breasts and apricots to my grocery shopping list this week.

  9. Veronica

    This sounds fab, Fiona. I have some organic apricots frozen from when they were in season so I will certainly try this.

  10. That sounds divine.

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