A good formula should not be messed with. No one wants to hear you say, ‘Well, I made five spice but I changed it – I used goji berries instead of the star anise and pumpkin seeds instead of the fennel. Oh, and I left out the cinnamon. And the cloves.”
Raymond Blanc being very French and very precise, in that stubbornly Gallic way, he insists they be cooked at 85C, which means bringing the dish to that temperature in a 95C oven, which sounds more Irish than French. Whatever – being South African of Yorkshire stock with Irish habits, I cooked it at 100C and kept an eye on it.
So call out the gendarmes, for here comes one of my occasional confessions – I have never been overly partial to rare duck, nor have I ever been convinced that, as with rare steak, it is simply the best way to do it. Give me my steak blue. Give me my duck brown amd meltingly good.