Parsnip Purée w/ Duck Breast, Radicchio, and Cranberry Relish — a perfect plate of holiday flavours

This Abra Berens recipe is ideal for your next dinner party or a cozy night in.

This Abra Berens recipe is ideal for your next dinner party or a cozy night in.

(Photography by EE Berger)

Whether you’re planning a special holiday main or looking to use up a relish from a recent feast, this recipe from Abra Berens’ cookbook Ruffage hits the spot. The bright, fruity flavours bring out the best in a perfectly seared duck breast and smooth parsnip side. You'll be inspired to impress your guests with this recipe or whip together for yourself on a cozy winter night in.

Parsnip Purée w/ Duck Breast, Radicchio, and Cranberry Relish

By Abra Berens

This is one of my favorite dishes to make about a week after Thanksgiving when there’s still some cranberry relish and we are all ready for some seriously Christmasy flavors. Feel free to substitute 1 cup of leftover relish if you have it. If you don’t, follow these instructions and know that you can scale up the recipe as needed. This relish keeps for weeks, so don’t be shy. The orange in the parsnip purée will go well with all of the variations that follow, but feel free to leave it out. If you can’t find duck, substitute chicken breasts, thighs, or thick pieces of salmon. 


  • 12 oz cranberries, washed and sorted
  • 1 tart apple, cored and cut into large chunks
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 8 to 10 parsnips (about 2 lb), ends cut off, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 star anise (optional)
  • 4 duck breasts (8 to 10 oz each)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head radicchio, cored and leaves cut into petals


In a food processor, combine the cranberries, apple, orange juice, sugar, and a big pinch of salt. Blend until still chunky but evenly sized. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

In a medium saucepan, heat a glug of olive oil and sweat the onion until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and reduce until almost dry. Add the parsnip chunks and 2 tsp of salt, and toss to coat.

Add the cream, ½ cup olive oil, and star anise (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the parsnips are falling-apart tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the anise, transfer the parsnips (liquid and all) to a food processor, and blend until very smooth (this may need to be done in batches). Add the orange zest and set the parsnip purée aside.

Score the skin of the duck breasts; this allows the fat to render more easily from the meat. Season the duck liberally with salt and pepper. 

Put the duck breast, skin-side down, in a cold, heavy-bottomed pan and turn the heat to medium. As the pan heats, it will slowly render the fat out of the duck, making the skin golden and crispy, about 12 minutes. (There will be a lot of fat; this can be saved and used to roast potatoes and such.)

When the skin is golden brown and crispy, flip the duck over to quickly sear the underside of the breast and cook to medium-rare, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let the duck rest for 5 minutes, skin-side up. 

Dress the radicchio with a glug of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. Add any duck cooking juices to the cranberry sauce and stir to combine (optional). 

Spoon some purée onto each serving plate, nestle the duck into the purée, top with a spoonful of the cranberry sauce, garnish with the radicchio, and serve.

Excerpted from Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables by Abra Berens. Photographs by EE Berger. Copyright 2019. Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.


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