Nestled in the heart of Soho, the Good Housekeeping Institute Cookery School has opened it’s doors to share it’s secrets in creating the very best recipes. Renown for its triple-tested recipes, which have featured in monthly additions of the popular magazine, now it was time to try them out first hand with a helping hand of one of their professional chefs.
Weeks leading up to its opening, I’d often peer through the glass and into the glistening kitchens of clear worktops wondering when there may be a chance to try them out. With only a small kitchen with limited work tops in my new London flat, this was the definition of heaven.
Throughout the jam-packed morning, we tested a variety of Scandinavian recipes fit for a Christmas feast. First up was Pimm’s Salmon Gravadlax, followed by a Snowy Yule Log and Duck with Port and Figs. Following an easy step recipe and being guided along the way, the morning flew by, and within no time my stomach began to rumble.
I was working with the lovely Nancy, and once we’d finished cooking, it was time to tuck into some of our creations. My favourite was without doubt the Duck with Port & Figs, which would provide a great alternative meat for Christmas Day. Resisting the yule log (as this wasn’t gluten free) was particularly difficult, but my colleagues were rather pleased when I brought back a large chunk to the office for them to tuck into.
As I was so impressed with the Duck with Port & Figs, I’ve included the recipe below with a step by step photo guide to test out at home. Often associated with Christmas, duck can be an excellent addition to your Christmas feast, but there is often confusion over the best and most simple way to approach this soft meat. Instead of opting for traditional turkey, try your hand at preparing duck. It’s far easier than you might think.
4 x 200g (7oz) duck breasts
1tsp rapeseed oil
150ml (1/4 pint) port
300ml (1/2 pint) hot chicken stock
Zest of 1 orange, plus 1-2 tbsp orange juice
9 fresh figs, halved
2. Put the duck, skin side down, with the oil into a large frying pan set over the lowest heat to let the fat run out. This will take 15-20mins and can be done up to 24hrs in advance (pour the fat into the bowl and use to cook the roast potatoes later). When the skin has turned golden and most of the fat has drained out, put the duck breasts on a rack set in a roasting tin, skin side-up.
5. Meanwhile heat a griddle pan over a medium heat and griddle the figs cut-side down for 3 mins until softened. Slice the duck breasts diagonally and arrange on warmed plates with figs. Drizzle over the sauce.
If you fancy testing out the wonderful kitchens and recipes yourself, daily courses of up to eight people run in the morning and afternoon. Prices range between £90-180 depending on if you opt for a short 3 hour class or a long 5 hour class.
GHI gift vouchers are also available and bespoke private sessions can be arranged on request and would make an ideal Christmas present for a food loving family member or friend.