Ingredients (serves 4)

– 4 duck breasts
– 2tsp Chinese five-spice powder
– 275g blackberries
– 1tsp brown sugar
– 2 sprigs of thyme
– 150ml water
– 1tbsp gin

1. Score the skin of the duck in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the flesh. Rub the skin with the spice and place to one side.

2. Set aside 12 berries for a garnish. Put the rest in a saucepan along with the sugar, thyme and water and simmer over a medium heat for 15 minutes or until the blackberries are soft.

3. Strain the sauce through a sieve, and discard the solids.

4. Heat a frying pan to medium and lay the duck skin-side down in the pan ? you won’t need any oil or butter. Cook for three or four minutes, then turn the breasts over and cook the other side for another five or so minutes. Turn them over again towards the end of cooking to crisp up the skin. Cooking time will depend on the size of the breasts and how rare or well-done you like them. When cooked, set aside in a warm place to rest.

5. To finish the sauce, pour off the fat from the frying pan and place over a high heat. Add the gin and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Pour in the sieved sauce, stir and reheat gently.

6. Slice the duck breasts in thin, diagonal slices and serve with the sauce poured over. Garnish with the fresh berries.