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Duck ‘bacon’ and eggs

This makes for a hearty breakfast, when the day’s activities call for a little more than tea and toast to sustain body and soul until lunchtime. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce yourself to a spot of simple curing. Curing in its most basic form is the removal of water from meat via the process of osmosis, by applying salt and sugar to the meat. Pigeon breasts can be treated in the same way.


To prepare the cure, crush the peppercorns and star anise, finely chop the bay leaf and mix these with the salt and sugar.

Season the duck breasts generously with the cure, sprinkling it over both sides (you may not need it all). Place them in a ceramic, plastic or non-reactive metal container in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but no longer than 4 hours.

They should give up some liquid and become a little firmer but the object here is not to cure them all the way through: you want duck ‘bacon’ on the outside but fresh duck on the inside. Rinse off the cure and pat the breasts dry.

Place the meat in a clean dish and leave in the fridge, uncovered, for an hour or two to dry slightly, before covering. The breasts are now ready to use, but will be better in a day or two when the meat will have developed in flavour and character.

To prepare your duck ‘bacon’ breakfast, slice the duck breasts thinly lengthways into ‘rashers’. Heat a frying pan and put some bread in the toaster. Add a little butter or oil to the pan and fry your rashers of duck until just cooked. Remove them from the pan and keep them warm while you fry the eggs in the same pan.

Serve with the toast and enjoy.

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  • 4 mallard breasts, with or without skin

For the quick cure

  • 2 peppercorns
  • 1 point from a star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar

To serve

  • 4 generous slices of good bread
  • A little oil or butter
  • 4 eggs

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Game Handbook