Bohemian dishes are defined by an unrequited love for crispy roast meats, delicious vegetables, fat dumplings and melt-in-the-mouth sauces.
Chance by the Czech Club Restaurant in London and you will smell the wild hog roast with creamy and cheesy sauce and dumplings; the beef roast in blended cream and vegetable sauce and dumplings; the goose roast, sauerkraut and dumplings; the pork roast with sauerkraut and dumplings; and not least the duck roast leg, boiled sauerkraut and dumplings.
Cold cuts of beef, chicken, duck, goose, lamb, salmon, trout, veal and wild hog perfectly roasted served with various salad choices, potato pancakes and potato dumplings treats to be savoured, butter and cream prominent in the cooking, this is Bohemian traditional food.
You get the idea. So did the Czechs. In 2009 a gastronomic festival was established in Karlovy Vary, the town with the big hotels, to push their food into the 21st century. In 2013 Grandhotel Pupp, Queen Latifah’s getaway in Last Holiday, won the prize. Their chefs took Bohemian cuisine onto another level.
They transformed that basic meat-veg-dumpling-sauce combination, producing new culinary masterpieces. One such dish was roast duck breasts, traditionally a simple pan-sealed slow baked plentiful meat served with vegetables, dumplings and sauce.
Pears replaced vegetables, cumin gave an oriental touch, light gnocchi was preferred to heavy dumplings and bacon was added to counter the sweetness with salt. The pear sauce complimented both duck and gnocchi.
- 600 g duck breasts, skin scored
- 600 g potatoes
- 250 ml chicken / duck stock
- 120 g bacon, cubed small
- 100 ml double cream / yoghurt
- 80 g spring onion
- 40 g honey
- 2 pears, halved, cored
- 35 g butter
- 20 ml oil
- 20 ml pear juice
- 10 g white flour
- Cumin seeds, large pinch
- Salt, large pinch
Marinade duck breasts in honey for 30 minutes, squeeze out liquid and rub with salt, thoroughly seal in hot oil, transfer to oven at 80°C for 90 minutes, 60 minutes if duck skin is thin.
Cook potatoes whole until tender. Make a creamy mash with butter and cream.
Brush all but one half pear with honey marinade and bake in oven for 45 minutes. Drain honey from pears.
With 15 minutes to go until the duck is done, heat three teaspoons of oil in frying pan. Incorporate two teaspoons of white flour into the oil until browned. Add chicken stock.
If the breasts are taken from a whole duck, make a stock with the bones and use instead.
Season with salt and crushed cumin seeds. Add honey liquid, pear juice and half pear cut into small pieces. Bring to boil, reduce. Strain.
Sauté bacon in butter and oil with chopped spring onions, pour in cream or yoghurt, keep warm on a low heat.
Slice duck breasts. Serve basted with pear sauce, potatoes or mash, gnocchi and bacon.
A simpler version is produced when the duck breasts are seasoned with salt and pepper, sealed with olive oil in a frying pan, splashed with a liqueur and allowed to simmer in ground cinnamon, chicken or duck stock for 20 minutes and served with ripe pears dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice, added to the stock after ten minutes.
Another version replaces the pears with plums, using whole plums, plum brandy or red wine and plum jam to make a rich sauce, served sliced with a potato purée, garnished with parsley. A cold version calls for the breasts to be marinated in lavish amounts of crushed pepper, sea salt and cane sugar in the fridge for two days, washed and dried, then pan-fried and left to cool. One large pear and a handful of walnuts are combined with a little oil over a medium heat, taken out and followed by onions, slowly caramelised. Iceberg is the preferred lettuce, the dressing white wine vinegar and olive oil.