- 2 kg red onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 140 g butter
- 20 g chopped thyme
- 140 g caster sugar
- 1 bottle red wine
- 350 ml red wine vinegar
- olive oil
- for the watercress purée:
- 300 g watercress leaves
- 125 g baby spinach
- 200 ml cream
- for the smoked duck and watercress salad:
- 1 smoked duck breast
- 400 g watercress leaves
- 12 blinis pancakes
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- For the Marmalade:
- Halve and thinly slice the onions, then thinly slice the garlic. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the onions and garlic and give them a good stir so they are glossed with butter.
- Sprinkle over the sugar and thyme leaves. Give everything another really good stir and reduce the heat slightly. Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions are ready when all their juices have evaporated, they're really soft and sticky and smell of sugar caramelising.
- The onions should be so soft that they break when pressed against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Slow cooking is the secret of really soft and sticky onions, so don't rush this part.
- Pour in the wine and vinegar and simmer everything, still uncovered, over a high heat for 20 minutes, stirring every so often until the onions are a deep red colour and the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds.
- Leave the onions to cool in the pan, then scoop into sterilised jars and seal. The marmalade can be eaten straight away, but keeps in the fridge for up to 3 months.
- For the Watercress Purée:
- Place a pan of salted water on to boil. Add in the watercress and boil for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another minute or so until wilted.
- Drain in a colander. Press with the back of a ladle to extract as much moisture as possible.
- Put the leaves into a jug blender and blend to a fine purée, scraping down the sides occasionally. Pour half of the cream through the processor funnel and keep the blades turning.
- You will eventually get a sauce with a texture like silk. It will be so smooth you will not need to pass it through a sieve. If you want a pouring sauce, add the remaining cream.
- To Serve:
- Thinly slice the duck breast length ways and curl each slice into a little rosette. Place a teaspoon of red onion marmalade on each blini and top that with a duck roll.
- Spread a generous amount of the purée across the plate. Dress the fresh watercress leaves with a little olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Place a handful of this in a line across the centre of the plate and place 3 pancakes along the top of the leaves and serve.
- These little pancakes make great canapés if you drizzle a little of the purée over the top of each one before serving.
Richie's tips: Make the Red Onion Marmalade in large quantities and store in airtight containers. This makes a great accompaniment to salads, cheese boards or even sandwiches and will last in the fridge for a long time. If you have a lot of watercress to use up, make it into a pesto in the same way you would with basil. Again this will keep far longer than the cream version in the recipe and will be a great addition to sandwiches and salads. Swap the smoked duck with very thin slices of roast beef, maybe even from the leftover Sunday Roast. To keep the watercress fresh stand it in a flower vase with a little water in the bottom and place it in the fridge. This will lengthen its shelf life greatly. Instead of using the blini pancakes, you can use a tortilla wrap and put all the ingredients into it. Roll it tightly and slice into little roulades then serve on the salad.