Tag Archives: Duck

One-pan roast duck – just add seasonal vegetables for a great meal.

24 Jun

I first ate duck fairly late in life, probably when I was in my late 30’s.  I can’t even remember people talking about actually eating duck when I was young and my only thoughts on the subject were that they lived in the River Gardens in Derby and loved to eat stale bread.  Thinking back, my first experience of eating duck had to be as a starter in a Chinese meal when on holiday.  It must have been on holiday as that was the only time I ate in a Chinese restaurant.  There were a couple of takeaways in the small town where I lived but nowhere to actually sit and eat a meal.  My first taste was a revelation!  Eaten with Hoisin sauce, celery and onions, wrapped in a small pancake.  Heaven!  The first time I cooked duck was one Christmas.  Mum and Dad were coming for their Christmas dinner and, as with every other year, they usually stayed for a few days.  I had cooked a traditional turkey dinner for Christmas Day (although I think I had drank too much wine with the neighbours and forgot to make the gravy!).  I knew Dad loved duck so I had bought two small ducks from the butcher to eat on Boxing Day.  My intention was to make the Chinese pancake recipe, a bit adventurous as, in those days, I was a novice to cooking anything other than meat and two veg meals.  I remember the recipe saying the duck skin had to be completely dry so that it crisped up during cooking.  We had limited kitchen facilities at the time so I put the ducks, unwrapped, in the greenhouse, secured the door and left them for 24 hours.  Just to reassure my friends who live in warmer climates, this was not risky as the temperature in the greenhouse was about 2 degrees C and not an insect in sight.  I made my own pancakes and even my own Hoisin sauce and the finished meal was fantastic.  I found the recipe in a Chinese cooking book that I gave away at some point.  Isn’t it typical that since then I have never found a recipe that comes up to the same standard.  I wonder where that book is now.

Nowadays we eat duck fairly regularly.  As there are just two of us I usually buy a couple of duck breasts rather than a whole bird.  This recipe, however, uses duck legs.  I was pleasantly surprised how much meat there was on the legs I bought.  I doubt I will start replacing the breasts with legs for most of my recipes but, for this one, they were perfect.  This recipe is based on one of Janet Allen’s, a Dublin born cook who has written some fantastic cookbooks.

One-pan roast duck                      Serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 2 duck legs, skin left on
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 small turnips, peeled and cut into small cubes (about the size of a thumb nail)
  • 4 medium potatoes (floury eg King Edwards or Maris Piper) cut into small cubes as above
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper 
  1. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan that has a lid.  Fry the duck breasts, skin side down, over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the skin is browned and going crispy.  Surround the duck with the onion and rosemary while it is browning.
  2. Add the potatoes and turnip, season and mix to coat all the vegetables in the fat.  Cover and transfer the dish to a preheated oven 180C/160Cfan/gas 5 for 75 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and continue cooking in the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the duck skin is crispy and the vegetables are tender.  Serve with seasonal green vegetables.

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Roast duck breast with plum sauce. Gorgeous!

18 Jan

Duck is one of our favourite foods but is quite expensive.  Now there is just the two of us at home, I hardly ever buy a whole duck.  Duck breasts may be a bit more expensive but there is a lot less waste and they are so easy to cook.  This recipe would work equally well with duck legs, I just can’t be bothered to fiddle about with getting the meat off the bones.  I remember when I first made this, we ate it by candlelight, and had a really romantic evening.  Not so last night.  I love a glass of wine when I am cooking and somehow, in the middle of making this, found myself trying to do Irish dancing in the kitchen while listening to the Corrs.  Those that know me will not find this unusual!  Some things never change, thank goodness!

The word duck comes from the old english word duce, which translates as diver.  Ducks, therefore, got the name because of the way they feed by upending and diving for their food.  Most people who read this blog will know all about ducks but, one interesting piece of information I didn’t know, was that only females of the dabbling ducks quack.  Just think of all those children that have been told the noise ducks make is quack!  Mind you, I’m not sure they would grasp the reality ie that they may whistle, yodel, coo or grunt!  I can’t ever remember hearing a duck grunt.  Perhaps I’ve only ever heard female dabbling ducks!

One of my favourite recipes for duck is Peking Duck.  I admit to being put off a bit when I saw them all hanging in the window of a Chinese Takeaway, in China Town, London.  I don’t think it was necessarily the hanging ducks that put me off, but the bright orange colour and the other pieces of meat hanging with them.  I don’t know what these were but have a sneaky suspicion they were intestines of some kind.  Yuk! I may be meat eater but there are some things I draw the line at.

Here is the recipe.  I’ve had it so long I can’t remember where I first found it, most likely one of my cooking journals that I subscribe to, although I can’t find a link to give you.   If you make too much sauce, freeze the rest for another day.

Roasted Duck Breast with Plum Sauce                  Serves 2

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 star anise
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter (it is less likely to burn than salted)

For the Plum Sauce

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g/10 oz dark plums, halved, stoned and cut into wedges
  • 50g/2 oz light brown, soft sugar
  • 50ml/2 fl oz red wine
  • 250ml/1/2 pt beef stock
  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Firstly make the sauce by frying the shallot in the oil for about 5 minutes or until softened but not coloured.  Add the plums and sugar, stir for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the red wine and stock then simmer for 15 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the plums are softened and the sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat and keep at room temperature.  Can be made up to one day in advance.
  3.  Dry the duck breasts well then score the skin and season well.  Fry, skin side down in a non-stick, ovenproof pan, for about 6-7 minutes or until the skin is browned.  Turn the breasts over, add the thyme, star anise and butter.  When the butter has melted, baste the duck then transfer the pan to the oven for 5-6 minutes if you like the duck link, or 10-12 minutes for well done.  Remove from the oven, baste and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. I served mine with stir fried mushrooms, onions and pak choy and potatoes in shirts (recipe in next post) but this would be equally as good served thinly sliced, topped with sauce and accompanied by mashed potatoes and a green vegetable such as broccoli.

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