- 1 large quince (450gm)
- 100 gm caster sugar
- 220 ml mead (see note)
- 1 litre (4 cups) butcher-quality duck, veal or brown chicken stock
- 4 duck breasts (200gm each), sinew trimmed and skin lightly scored
- Licorice herb (see note) or baby rocket, to serve
- 50 gm black olives
- 20 gm brown sugar
- 2 tbsp almond meal
- 4 small star anise, dry-roasted
- 1For licorice crumb, submerge olives in a small saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Drain, and repeat three times with fresh water. Drain well, then coarsely chop olives and pat dry with paper towels until no more water is visible (this is very important; moisture will melt the sugar and also take much longer to dry in oven). Place olives, sugar, almond meal and star anise on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Transfer to a dehydrator or very low oven (45°C, or as low as it will go) and bake until mixture is dry (10-12 hours). Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind to a fine crumb.
- 2Peel quince, reserving skin, and cut into quarters lengthways, then cut out and reserve core. Meanwhile, combine sugar and 500ml water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add quince and reserved peel and cores, cover with a piece of baking paper, reduce heat to low and poach, turning quince occasionally, until just tender and lightly coloured (25-30 minutes). Remove quince, strain syrup, discarding peel and cores, then cook syrup over medium-high heat until reduced to a glaze (13-15 minutes). Reduce heat to low, return quince to pan, and cook, turning occasionally, until well coated (1-2 minutes). Cool in syrup, then trim and cut into thick wedges
- 3Add stock to a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half (20-25 minutes). Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, simmer 200ml mead over medium-high heat until reduced to 1½ tbsp (10-12 minutes). Pour reduced mead into stock and cook until sauce is reduced to 150ml (10-12 minutes). Stir through remaining mead and keep warm.
- 4Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly season duck with sea salt. Place duck, skin side-down, in a large ovenproof non-stick frying pan, then place pan over medium heat. Cook duck, draining fat from time to time until skin is deep golden and crisp (12-15 minutes). Baste the flesh a few times with fat from the pan, then roast until medium-rare (6 minutes). Rest at room temperature until medium (10 minutes).
- 5Reduce oven to 140°C. Divide quince among plates and scatter with licorice crumb to taste. Return duck to oven to warm through (3 minutes). Thickly slice, season to taste, arrange around quince, then spoon mead sauce over and serve with extra sauce.
Licorice herb is available from select farmers' markets and nurseries. Mead is available from select bottle shops, including Dan Murphy's.Wine suggestion: A wine with refreshing tannins and supple fruit, such as the 2016 Anthony Thévenet Morgon Vieilles Vignes from Beaujolais. Wine suggestion by Liam O'Brien.