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Milan s Duck Breast with Madeira Sauce
Milan's Duck Breast with Madeira Sauce

Lyndey Milan knew her next cooking adventure was never going to be easy.

It's one of the reasons she headed to Ireland - a place so famous for its warm and generous hospitality.

The last time we saw Milan in a TV food series was when she headed to the Mediterranean in 2011 with her son Blair for Lyndey & Blair's Taste of Greece.

Sadly, the wonderful adventure ended in tragic circumstances after Blair suddenly died at age 29 of acute myeloid leukaemia back in Sydney, before the show even aired on SBS.

"I knew that wherever I went next would be difficult because of Blair, so I think to go somewhere English speaking was going to make it that bit easier," Milan said.

In Milan's true spirit, and to continue her and Blair's dream, she spent September 2011 in Ireland to film her latest series Lyndey Milan's Taste of Ireland.

"After spending that amount of time there - the hospitality, and the openness and the friendliness of the Irish, and their self-deprecating sense of humour - I realise we are just like the Irish, there is that connection."

Milan kicks off her new series in Belfast, and in first-class style when she visits the dry dock where the Titanic was built.

"It is such a romantic story. And the dry dock is just incredible to visit - it's absolutely enormous."

As always, Milan combines her love of history and food, and here she steps back 100 years to create a dish from the Titanic's menu, duck breast with Madeira sauce.

Throughout the eight episodes Milan reveals an Ireland rich in produce and meals, along with stunning scenery, and of course, its wonderful characters.

From County Cork, Kinsale and Clew Bay to Waterford and Dublin, she travels far and wide over this tiny island.

And in true Irish style she admits it rained for 23 days straight during her trip.

"That's Ireland - that's why it's called the Emerald Isle," laughs Milan in her jovial spirit, a reason why she's one of Australia's most-loved TV personalities.

"I like to go on the beaten track, but off the beaten track, in the fact that it's more than just a food show - there's history and culture. And food and culture are inextricably linked."

Milan says she is ready to silence those who think her show will be just about potatoes.

"First of all, have you tasted their potatoes? They are sensational, and there is an awful lot more as well."

Some of her unforgettable moments in Irish cuisine include freshly caught mackerel, monk fish and turbot, plus home-smoked salmon to a classic spotted dog.

"Cold waters grow such incredible seafood. The quality and diversity of (Ireland's) seafood really blew me away.

"I had those beautiful Galway oysters straight out of the river. I cooked seafood chowder at a really famous place called Morans at the Wier."

She also visits festivals, farmers' markets and pubs.

Milan admits she acquired a love for Irish whiskey during her travels.

"Definitely, I found out I like Irish whiskey, I don't like scotch. The Irish whiskey doesn't have that real peat character, and it's triple distilled, so Irish whiskey is absolutely sensational.

"And there's nothing like Guinness on tap in Ireland - it tastes completely different."

She says it was hard not to enjoy the famous Irish hospitality and recalls the episode at a whiskey distillery.

With famed flautist Matt Molloy of The Chieftains as her host, Milan learned how to make traditional black pudding before enjoying the craic.

"It was an absolutely fabulous day.

"The atmosphere of a traditional Irish pub, crowded with people, and musicians playing their instruments is just so amazing."

Lyndey Milan's Taste of Ireland premieres on Lifestyle Food on Monday, May 20 at 7.30pm.

RECIPE: Duck Breast with Madeira Sauce - for the Titanic
Serves 2
Preparation 5 minutes, Cooking 10 minutes2 x 200g duck breast fillets, skin on
Salt and freshly ground black pepperVegetable Roesti:
1 potato, peeled and grated
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 white (or yellow carrot), peeled and grated
1 zucchini or courgette, grated
1/2 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons (30g) butterMadeira Sauce:
1/2 cup (125ml) madeira or sherry
1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste1. Cut deep slashes in the duck skin. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a cold medium frying pan, skin side down, place over medium heat, for about 6 - 8 minutes or until skin is well browned and fat rendered. Turn duck breasts and cook, flesh side down for two minutes for medium-rare or longer if you prefer. Transfer to a warmed plate and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for five minutes while you make the sauce.2. Meanwhile to make vegetable roesti remove excess water from vegetables by placing all in a clean tea towel and squeezing over a medium bowl. Tip water out of bowl, add in vegetables and combine with egg. Melt half the butter in a small frying pan over medium high heat then add the vegetable mixture. As vegetables begin to cook and soften push down with a potato masher to flatten. When cooked on one side, cover pan with a plate and invert it. Add remaining butter to the pan and slip the roesti into the pan, uncooked side downwards. Push down again.3. For sauce: pour duck fat from pan and deglaze pan with madeira, chicken stock and red currant jelly. Whisk to combine. Add strained orange and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a little water if the sauce evaporates too much.4. To serve, slice roesti in half and place on serving plate. Top with duck breast, carved into thick slices and spoon over the sauce.Lyndey's Note: Scoring the skin and starting with a cold pan renders more fat on the duck, resulting in a much crisper skin.