Food: Festive Duck Breast with Lemon and Thyme Polenta

The Hairy Bikers are back!

This dish is taken from their 2015 Christmas Recipe book ‘The Hairy Bikers’ 12 Days of Christmas: Christmas Made Easy for Your Family and Friends’. Other delights in the book include “Cranberry & lime vodka jelly shots” and “Loin of Venison in a Sloe Gin”.

This recipe, ‘Festive Duck Breast with Lemon and Thyme Polenta’ is quick, easy to prepare and truly delicious.

Festive duck breast with a lemon and thyme polenta


(serves 2)
2 duck breasts (skin on)
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
finely grated zest of ½ orange
150ml Marsala wine
100ml chicken stock
Good quality cranberry sauce
Sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 sprigs of thyme to garnish
pinch of lemon zest to garnish
For the Polenta
125g polenta
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste


  • Rub the skin of the duck breasts with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper and place them skin side down in a dry, preheated frying pan.
  • Cook the duck for 6 minutes on each side over a medium heat if you like it pink or 8 minutes a side if you prefer it murdered.
  • While the duck is cooking, you can get on with preparing the polenta. Bring 575ml of water to the boil in a saucepan and add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking all the time until it thickens – about 3–4 minutes should do it.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, thyme and lemon zest and mix well, then season to taste. Leave for a few minutes to let those lovely flavours infuse the polenta.
  • Now back to the duck. Remove the duck from the frying pan and set it aside to rest. Add the star anise, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest to the pan you cooked the duck in, then pour in the Marsala and chicken stock and deglaze those lovely duck juices.
  • Reduce the liquid over a high heat for 3 minutes or so to intensify the flavours and thicken the sauce, then have a taste and season.
  • Carve the duck breast on the diagonal and place the slices on top of the polenta. Pour over the reduced sauce and add a teaspoon of cranberry on top of the duck. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and a pinch of lemon zest.
  • Serve with whatever you fancy but we like this with green beans.


    Hairy Bikers Christmas Recipe

    Read Jo Pratt’s – Souper green soup with pumpkin seed croutons recipe on Flush the Fashion >

    The Hairy Bikers’ 12 Days of Christmas: Christmas Made Easy for Your Family and Friends by Dave Myers and Si King is available here >

    See The Hairy Bikers cooking live at a BBC Good Food Show 2016