- 300g celeriac, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
- 600ml whole milk
- 60g butter
- 2 heads of chicory, halved lengthways
- 4tsp caster sugar
- 100ml verjuice (or pomegranate juice)
- 4 duck breasts
- 3tsp sumac
- Pomegranate molasses (optional)
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Simmer the celeriac in the milk with half a teaspoon of salt for 15 to 20 minutes until the celeriac is tender. Drain the celeriac, reserving the milk. Blend the celeriac until smooth, using a little of the milk to help achieve a spoonable consistency.
Fry half the butter until it is a light nut-brown colour, then remove from the heat and stir into the celeriac purée. Cover and leave to one side.
Melt the remaining butter in the same pan, add the chicory cut-side down in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Fry for two minutes, then use a spatula to turn the chicory, sprinkling each half with the sugar. Cook for a further two minutes.
Pour in the verjuice and cook for another six to eight minutes (you want to keep the chicory slightly resistant to the bite).
Season the duck on both sides with salt and pepper and half the sumac. Place skin-side down in a dry, cold ovenproof frying pan. Place over a medium-high heat and cook for five minutes without moving, or until the skin is golden brown and caramelised in places. Turn the duck breasts and transfer to the oven, skin-side up, for five minutes for pink, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes.
Warm the celeriac and chicory and slice the duck. Arrange on plates or a platter topped with the remaining sumac, a scant drizzle of pomegranate molasses (if using) and the pomegranate seeds.
In Iran and neighbouring countries, it is perfectly usual for sumac to be on the table, alongside salt and pepper, to use as you wish: I greatly encourage you to do the same. A dusting of its bright citrusy excellence on chips or hummus should convince you.
Sumac works very well with chicken, and perhaps even more happily with duck, as here. This has so much good going on: salt, sweet, bitter and the glorious layering of sours, with sumac on the duck, chicory cooked in verjuice, pomegranate seeds and a final swizzle of pomegranate molasses to serve.
If you fancy a salad of rocket, mizuna or watercress to go with, you'd be a good person.
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