Festive Cumberland Sauce

Cumberland Sauce is a traditional English accompaniment for a Christmas goose or ham. It also goes well with game. These days it has largely been supplanted by cranberry sauce which, like turkey, is an American import.

DonQui’s Cranberry Sauce

DonQui likes cranberry sauce with turkey. A couple of years back he described his recipe for a simple homemade cranberry sauce.

This year DonQui will be having ham (gammon joint) on Christmas eve and he wants to try his hand at making Cumberland sauce to go with it.

This is his recipe:


½ lemon, zest and juice
½ orange, zest and juice
4 tablespoons, redcurrant jelly
a good splash of port wine
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cornflour

Note: Traditionally Cumberland sauce is made with mustard. DonQui has a mild allergy to mustard so he leaves it out, using instead the cornflour to bind and thicken the sauce. If you like mustard then leave out the cornflour and use a good teaspoon of mustard instead.



Warm up the orange and lemon zest in the port, letting it reduce slightly


Add the redcurrant jelly and whisk it in over a low heat until the jelly had completely melted and it is blended with the port.


Put the ginger and cornflour (or mustard) in a small glass or bowl. Gradually add the orange and lemon juice. blend it together until well mixed.


Add the juice mixture to the pot and bring it slowly to the boil, whisking it as you do so that it is nicely blended.

Remove from the heat and pour into a serving jug.


There you have it.

Essentially Cumberland sauce is jazzed up redcurrant jelly. The ginger and citrus zest/juice gives it a real Christmassy flavour. DonQui tries it out with venison and it goes perfectly. He is looking forward to trying it again with his Christmas eve ham.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Much to DonQui’s surprise this is really easy to make. He first tried it out over Christmas and more recently to accompany his guinea fowl supremes.



200g fresh cranberries
Juice of 1 orange plus a bit of zest
Sugar to taste (DonQui likes his quite tart while Duchess likes it sweeter)
A good splash of ruby port



Put all the ingredients except the port in a small pot. Bring to the boil and then let simmer gently until the cranberries turn soft and the liquid reduces down.


Add a splash of port. Taste for sweetness.

And that’s it!



Duck with Cranberry and Orange Sauce

DonQui has been rather lazy over the past few weeks but then that is what the Winter Solstice is all about — a fire burning in the hearth to keep him warm on the outside and calvados or port to keep him warm on the inside.

With a belly full of turkey DonQui has not been particularly inclined to do much cooking of late but today he decided it was time to get the pots and pans out again and eat something other than cold cuts and salad.

In the freezer was a large duck breast DonQui had bought in France a few months back. In the fridge were some left over cranberries which he did not use with the Christmas turkey. Therefore duck breast with cranberry sauce seemed to be the way to go.

Here is his recipe for 2 people:

For the Meat
1 large duck breast
6 juniper berries
3 allspice cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a tiny pinch of ground cinnamon

For the Sauce
100 ml ruby port
100 g fresh cranberries
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
½ cinnamon stick
250 ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons of redcurrant jelly



Score the skin of the duck breast with a sharp knife cutting all the way through the fat but not into the meat.


With a mortar and pestle, grind the juniper berries, allspice, salt, pepper and cinnamon into a rough powder. Rub the mix all over the duck breast and leave to stand for about 10-15 minutes.


Gently fry the duck breast, skin side down, in a dry heavy-based pan for about 10 minutes. The idea is to let all the fat cook out, leaving the skin nice and crispy. Then turn the breast over and fry the other side for about 4 minutes. Set aside to rest while you make the sauce. It will need a good 10 minutes resting time.

Pour off excess fat from the frying pan, there will be a lot of it, but try not to loose the meat juices. If you managed not to burn it then you can keep it in a jar to use later for roasting potatoes


Deglaze the pan with the port then add the remaining ingredients for the sauce.


Bring it to the boil and let it cook down until it is reduced by about two-thirds and had thickened to a syrupy consistency and the cranberries are very soft.

Add the juices from the resting duck. Taste and adjust the seasoning and add a little sugar if you think it is a little too tart.


Thinly slice the duck breast and serve with the cranberry sauce spooned around it. DonQui had roast potatoes and black kale to accompany it.