Parsnip Puree with Duck Breast, Radicchio and Cranberry Relish
Parsnip Puree with Duck Breast, Radicchio and Cranberry Relish

Parsnip Puree with Duck Breast, Radicchio and Cranberry Relish


This is one of my favourite dishes to make about a week after Thanksgiving when there's still some cranberry relish and we are all ready for some seriously Christmassy flavours. Feel free to substitute a cup of leftover relish if you have it. If you don't, follow these instructions and know you can scale the recipe up as needed. This relish keeps for weeks, so don't be shy. If you can't find duck, substitute chicken breasts, thighs, or thick pieces of salmon.

340g cranberries, washed and sorted
1 tart apple (230g), cored and cut into large chunks
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
50g sugar
2 tsp salt, plus more as needed
120mL olive oil, plus more as needed
1 onion cut into thin slices
1 cup (240mL) white wine
8-10 parsnips, ends cut off, peeled and cut into chunks
240mL (1 cup) cream
2 star anise (optional)
4 duck breasts, 230g-280g each
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head radicchio, cored and leaves cut into petals


In a food processor, combine cranberries, apple, orange juice, sugar and a big pinch of salt. Blend until still chunky, but evenly sized.

Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

In a medium saucepan, heat a glug of olive oil and sweat the onion until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add wine and reduce until almost dry. Add parsnip chunks and 2 teaspoons of salt, toss to coat.

Add cream, 1/2 cup olive oil and star anise if using. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cooked until the parsnips are fall-apart tender, about 15 minutes. Remove anise, transfer parsnips (liquid and all) to a food processor and blend until very smooth (this may need to be done in batches).

Add orange zest and set parsnip puree aside.

Score the skin of the duck breasts, this allows the fat to render more easily from the meat. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Put the duck breast, skin side down, in a cold, heavy-bottomed pan and turn heat to medium. As the pan heats, it will slowly render the fat out of the duck, making the skin golden and crispy, about 12 minutes. (There will be a lot of fat; this can be saved and used to roast potatoes and such).

When skin is golden brown and crispy, flip duck over to quickly sear the underside of the breast. Cook to medium-rare, about 4 minutes, transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes, skin side up.

Dress radicchio with a glug of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Add any duck cooking juices to cranberry sauce and stir to combine (optional).

Spoon some puree onto each serving plate, nestle duck on puree and top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, garnish with radicchio and serve.

Credits: This is an edited extract from Ruffage by Abra Berens, published by Chronicle Books $65 and is available where all good books are sold.

Photo Credits: Photographer: © EE Berger