Posted in Recipe

Duck Breast with Rosemary Scented Risotto

I have to admit, until recently I wasn’t a big fan of risotto, most probably because no matter where I ate it, it always tastes raw and like chalk. And just to be clear, al dente means raw to me when it comes to risotto and pasta! So not being a fan of risotto, I hardly cook it and dread it when a client requests risotto, which happened with my last private Sunday lunch where I was the chef. My very dear and nice client insisted on risotto, because she likes it a lot. And so started a journey to learn asap how to cook perfect risotto and who better to learn from than an Italian friend of mine! I followed his instructions to the letter and below in the method I have published, is his detailed way of cooking risotto. The risotto was perfect, I am a convert and my client was one very happy and satisfied woman!

The Duck Breast:

The duck breast was simply scored on the skin, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little mixed spice, pan-fried skin down until crispy, turned over in the pan and baked in a 180°C oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven after 8 minutes, set on a plate and cover with tin foil allowing the meat to rest while you continue with the risotto. This will result in a duck breast that is still very pink inside, if you prefer a more done breast, then pan fry the breast on the other side also for about 2 minutes before finishing them off in the oven. To make a light jus to drizzle over the risotto, drain all the fat from your pan except for a little, add one chopped shallot, one whole garlic clove, peeled and a sprig of rosemary and fry until soft over low heat. Add 100ml good brandy to the pan and allow the alcohol to cook off. Add 200ml vegetable stock and a teaspoon of smooth Dijon mustard. Stir and cook until reduced by a third. Strain and keep warm until needed.

Duck Breast with Rosemary Scented Risotto
Duck Breast with Rosemary Scented Risotto

For the Risotto:

Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 30 min| Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 4

  • 400g Risotto
  • 2 Shallots, chopped
  • 50g Butter + 50g to Finish
  • 1L Strong Chicken Stock, should be hot
  • 125ml Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 Rosemary Sprigs
  • 40g Grated Parmesan


  1. Fry the shallots over low heat in 50g of the butter until soft.
  2. Add the risotto and sprigs of rosemary ensuring that they are coated with the butter and fry them for about 5 minutes with the shallots.
  3. After the 5 minute fry, turn the heat to maximum add the 125ml wine and cook off the alcohol.
  4. Add a ladle of chicken stock and stir the risotto continually. Repeat this step until there is only one ladle of stock left. This process will take about 20 minutes.
  5. Once there is one ladle of stock left, turn heat off, fish out the rosemary, add the butter and parmesan and stir vigorously for about a minute, allow the risotto to settle.
  6. Drizzle now the last ladle of stock over the risotto, put the lid on and let it stand and steam while you get your plates ready, carve the duck breasts and take the baked vegetables out of the oven.
  7. Once you are ready to plate the risotto, take the lid off, stir well and plate. The risotto should be soft to the bite, creamy, but still hold its form. It should not spread all over the plate, it is risotto, not a soup!

To plate:

  1. Add a generous spoon of risotto to your warm plate.
  2. Set the baked vegetable on one side and the carved duck breast on the other side.
  3. Drizzle just a little jus over, don’t drown the risotto.
  4. Serve warm with a good wine of your choice.

This is bistro-style food, it is simple, but delicious and packed with flavour. Make sure you actually make extra risotto, because your guests will ask for more! I had to cook a second batch as there wasn’t enough for everybody who wanted seconds!

Posted in How To, Recipe

Indian Spiced Hamburger with Mango Achar & Labneh

I adore a good hamburger, not the paper tasting stuff you buy at MacDonald’s, Steers and Wimpy outlets in South Africa, but a juicy, homemade burger. Most hamburger joints kill the poor burger with their own “special sauce” which is usually loaded with msg and way too much sugar! I have traveled three times in my life to India and during my travels I have investigated and studied their cuisine intensively as I absolutely adore the use of spices and herbs to add amazing flavour to dishes. When I was recently requested to cater a birthday party for a sixteen year old boy, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to introduce my take on the hamburger with a kick.

As it was for an Indian boy I used lamb mince in my recipe, but you can use a mixture of beef and pork as well. Some of the boys were vegetarian and I took this recipe and just made bigger patties for the vegetarian version of my burger. Follow the recipe as is, just leave out the smoked paprika and add the spices under the recipe for the lamb patty. Mix well, form a 10cm diameter patty and fry in a pan in olive oil until golden and brown. To make the patties I used this little niffty gadget, it works wonderful and you have the perfect patty! Underneath the patty we added a simple salad of shredded cabbage and carrots, it adds crunch and freshness to the burger.

For the mango achar, you can either buy in bottles from a good Indian groceries store or make your own. I love this recipe. I add a little more salt and as mangoes are in season in SA at the moment, try to make your own, it is worthwhile.

The labneh is so easy to make, it is basically a good Greek yogurt which was drained overnight to firm it up a little. I make it in large quantities as I also sell it at my stall on the Pretoria Boeremark (farmer’s market) Make sure you have a good bread bun as vessel for the burger, my client requested a healthier brown bun instead of the normal white bun with sesame seeds. And last but not least please butter the buns, there is nothing more off-putting than a piece of dry bun, just a light smear will do the trick!

Chef Willie busy adding finishing touches to the burgers
Chef Willie busy adding finishing touches to the burgers

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 10 min| Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 4

For Burger Patty

  • 500g Lamb Mince
  • 1 Jumbo Egg
  • 50g Bread Crumbs
  • Handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 Small Onion, grated
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • ½ tsp Garlic & Ginger Masala
  • ½ tsp Dried Chili Flakes
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Salt

For the Labneh:

  • 1-2 kg Greek Yogurt
  • Salt to taste

To make:

Burger Patty: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they are well combined, but be careful not to over mix. Once mixed weigh off 150g of meat and form a patty with the above mentioned Burger Maker. Fry the patties over a medium flame in a bit of oil or barbeque them for a more smokey flavour.

Labneh: Put the yogurt in a cheese cloth inside a colander inside another bowl to catch the whey water. Drain overnight. For this to be successful your yogurt must be without gelatine or other “natural thickeners”, these additives tend to retain the fluid in the yogurt. Once drained you should have a fairly thick substance which we call Labneh, flavour with a little salt and store in a container in the fridge.

To assemble:

  1. Cut buns in half and butter both sides lightly.
  2. On the bottom half, heap some shredded cabbage and carrot salad.
  3. Place the warm burger patty on salad
  4. Top with some mango achar and a quinelle of labneh.
  5. Serve immediately with crispy oven baked potatoes.
Indian Hamburger 2
The end product, tasty and very juicy hamburgers to go!