CHEF’S DISH: Duck and cherries with a Michelin star

Goosenargh duck with fondant potato, garden vegetables and poached cherries
Goosenargh duck with fondant potato, garden vegetables and poached cherries

Working alongside celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay isn’t always as glamorous as it might seem… as James Payne discovered the night he ran from Claridges to Maze and then Murano restaurants, carrying a side of salmon over one shoulder and a beef fillet under his arm.

But he accomplished his errand in time to catch the late train back to Sheffield. And it was all goodexperience for his next challenge – in the kitchen at Michelin-starred Fischer’s Baslow Hall.

James has worked alongside owner Max Fischer and executive head chef Rupert Rowley for five years now, becoming sous chef eight months ago.

“It’s a great feeling – one of pride and success,” he says.

“You always want to be the best you can possibly be at everything you do. So to finally get here I have a feeling of fulfilment.”

James trained at Barnsley College, working at a number of local restaurants to develop his skills.

This led to work experience at Ramsay’s Claridges restaurant – and James proved such an asset that he stayed on for two years.

The job involved some encounters with celebrity customers: “One time comedian Al Murray was dining at the Chef’s Table, where guests would cook their own fish course. He was joking around and I had to warn him to be careful – it wasn’t worth getting a roasting if he burned himself!”

But when the opportunity arose to move back home and join the team at Fischer’s, it was too good a chance to miss.

“It’s a beautiful place to live and work: the surroundings, location and gardens,” says James, who now lives in Baslow with his partner, Suzanne, and is a member of the village crown green bowls club.

“Working with such fresh ingredients is the best thing,” he says.

Boss Max Fischer is a keen gardener, as well as a respected chef, and much of the restaurant’s produce is grown and hand-picked by him and the team, either in the grounds of Baslow Hall or at his home in Barlow.

James has been steeped in the ethos of home-grown food and is inspired by the freshness of his ingredients.

His chosen dish is Goosnargh duck with fondant potato, garden vegetables and poached cherries.

“It’s a stand-out dish on the menu, showing what Fischer’s is all about – good quality ingredients cooked well,” he says.

Diners can get a taste of the Fischer’s experience with an autumn foraging lunch on October 15, featuring ingredients picked from the garden and local area. Fischer’s special £20.14 lunch deal is also available until November 28.

Breast of Goosenargh Duck

with fondant potato, garden vegetables & poached cherries

with fondant potato, garden vegetables & poached 

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the duck:

1 Goosnargh duck crown

1 heart, taken from the duck

Fondant potato:

2 large potatoes (eg Maris Piper)
50g butter

Garden vegetables:

2 baby beetroots

4 baby turnips

10 baby chard leaves

2 baby carrots

1 grelot onion

Peas and broad beans

Poached cherries:

10 cherries

100 ml red wine

50 ml port

1 star anise

½ cinnamon stick



Sear both sides of the duck crown, without extra fat or oil, in a hot pan. Place in a dish and cook in the oven for 14 minutes at 200°C.

Remove and rest for 5 minutes, then slice off the breasts. (A large duck should be enough for four. Remain of carcass can be discarded or used for stock.)

Fondant Potato:

Peel potato and cut into a cylinder shape. Melt butter in a pan and, when foaming, add the potatoes. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, until potato begins to colour; turn and repeat. This should take around 10 minutes.

Poached Cherries:

Place cherries in a pan with red wine, port, star anise and cinnamon stick.

Bring to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Liquor may be reduced to a syrup or made into a sauce to accompany the dish.

Garden Vegetables:

Cook garden vegetables and season to taste. Beets should be cooked in water with thyme and garlic for around 15 minutes. Onion should be blanched then fried to caramelise; turnips and carrots shouldbe peeled and blanched for 1-2mins; peas and broad beans for 30 secs. 
Finish by tossing in a little butter.

To serve:

Fry duck heart in a very hot pan for 30 seconds. Arrange on a plate with potato and vegetables. Spoon on the cherries and serve with a rich red wine sauce.