Duck breasts with peverada sauce and spiced apple compote

Duck breasts with peverada sauce and spiced apple compote

Petto d’anatra con peverada e mele speziate

Helen Cathcart

This medieval recipe is still made in Venice today. This may seem a complex recipe but it can be made in advance. Any bird can be used, the idea being the sauce is made from the liver. This version is from chef Mario from Bistrot de Venise. Any leftover sauce is wonderful with hot pasta, soft polenta or crostini.

For the duck breasts


Quantity Ingredient
6-8 duck breasts
freshly ground black pepper
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked

For the peverada sauce

Quantity Ingredient
500g chicken livers
2 lemons, juiced
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fine salt
freshly ground black pepper
150g sausages
200g salami
6 mini gherkins, finely chopped
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
750ml Rita's chicken stock
1 tablespoon icing sugar

For the apple compote

Quantity Ingredient
200g onion, roughly chopped
100g demerara sugar
400g apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2 cm cubes
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
50g pine nuts
50g sultanas
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons white wine


  1. To prepare the duck breasts, score the skin all over in a criss-cross pattern, season and press on the chopped vegetables so they cover the breasts. Put the duck into a vacuum, sous-vide or roasting bag suitable for cooking at low temperatures in the oven. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag or use a vacuum machine. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 70°C and cook in the plastic bag for 1 hour.
  2. To make the peverada sauce, lay the livers on to kitchen paper for a few minutes to dry them out. Put the lemon juice into a saucepan on a medium heat and allow it to bubble away until it is reduced by half. In a separate pan sweat the onions in the oil over a low heat with salt and a generous amount of pepper for around 10 minutes until translucent. Blitz the sausages into a fine mince in a food processor then scrape into a bowl. Do the same for the salami; this is done separately as the meats break up differently. Add both minced meats to the onions and brown all over. Take off the heat.
  3. Trim away the white connective tissue between the livers and discard. Using a large cook’s knife chop the livers into a coarse mince. This is best not done in a food processor as it turns to paste. Remove and discard the excess oil from the saucepan containing the browned sausages. Do this by resting the saucepan on a chopping board so that it tips to one side and pull the mince over to the higher side with a wooden spoon. The oil will collect in lower side. Spoon this out and discard. Put back over a low heat and add the chopped livers. Simmer the mixture slowly over a low heat for around 30 minutes until browned and dry. It is important that it is dry as the liquid from the livers can be bitter if left.
  4. Add the gherkins, garlic, lemon juice and stock and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to simmer for around 30 minutes. Add the icing sugar and adjust the seasoning as necessary remembering that it should have a definite kick of pepper. The sauce can be made a day or two in advance and kept, covered, in the fridge.
  5. To make the apple compote put the onion and sugar together in a small saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the apples and mustard powder and cook for a further 5 minutes until the apple becomes golden. Add the pine nuts and sultanas, pour in the vinegar and wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
  6. Fry the duck, skin-down in a non-stick frying pan over a low heat for 10 minutes, then turn to the flesh side and cook for 5 minutes. Reheat the peverada sauce in a frying pan, pour onto warmed plates, top with the duck and serve with the apple compote.
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