Glazed roast duck

This is the best duck I have made to date. It came out beautifully brown, with five-spice, honey and other brown flavours with meat juicy and flavourful. A success, which I hope to repeat every time I want to roast a whole duck. It was the first time I decided to steam the duck simply because it reduced the overall cooking time to 1 hour 45minutes, which is better than the usual 2 1/2- 3 hours it usually took me to slow roast a duck.

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Here’s the recipe:

time to make 2½ hours, out of which 30 min is prep the night before

1 whole duck (4 to 5 pound)
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 slices fresh ginger (I went a bit crazy there as one can never have enough ginger)
4 cloves garlic (ditto)
1/2 bunch green onions (didn’t use these, forgot)
1 tangerine, peel cut in big strips
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce

To reduce the fat and produce a crispy skin, begin by trimming the excess fat from the neck and body. Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Combine the Chinese five-spice, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Salt and five-spice powder makes a fragrant dry marinade, which draws some of the moisture from the duck so that the spices penetrate. I left the duck rest overnight in a larder so it was a bit air-dried as well.

When ready to rock and roast, stuff the duck cavity with the aromatics: the ginger, garlic, green onions, and tangerine peel. Fold the wing tips back under the duck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Poke the duck breast a few times, piercing the skin. Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium. Set a V-rack insert inside the pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover tightly with aluminium foil. Steam the duck for 45 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Seems obvious but when doing this, make sure you don’t get burnt by the escaping steam. Steaming the duck first melts away some of the fat and shrinks the skin.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer and stir for 15 minutes until sauce thickens. The duck will be lacquered with the sweet glaze, which caramelizes during roasting, making the skin crisp and brown.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Take the foil off the duck, remove the rack with the duck and pour out the water and all the fat that has rendered out. Put the rack with the duck back inside the roasting pan. Baste the duck with the vinegar mixture, until all the skin is completely coated in the glaze. Stick the whole thing in the oven.

Roast the duck for 1 hour, basting periodically with any remaining glaze to set in a deep mahogany colour. Tent the breast with some foil if it gets too dark. I didn’t need to do this as the duck was rather large so it could take the heat. The legs will wiggle easily when it’s done or the usual test – when pierce clear juices will run – works too.

I left it stand for a few minutes while waiting for the sweet potatoes to finish roasting for a mash. Carve and serve.

The duck was served with sweet potato mash and brussel sprouts with garlic and parmesan. Oh and a decent, if not extravagant, bottle of French red.
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Photos courtesy of Alec Muffett. Many thanks!

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Pork belly with soy and star anise recipe

A recent find via the Telegraph recipes, a succulent dish of pork belly and aromatic ingredients such as star anise, chilli, ginger and garlic. I made it in the last throes of cold weather in the UK – it seemed to be a winter dish but the ginger lifts it to any season.

As it happens the cold, if sunny, spell continues so perhaps time to make it again.

 

IMG_7803, originally uploaded by alecmuffett.

The full set of photos is here.

Ingredients:

1.5kg (3lb 5oz) pork belly, bones removed, rind on
125ml (4fl oz) dark soy sauce
75ml (2¾fl oz) Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
25ml (¾fl oz) rice vinegar
2 tbsp soft light-brown sugar
5cm (2in) piece root ginger, peeled and finely sliced (I added twice that much as we love ginger!)
3 star anise
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced (as usual, I added one more chilli)
12 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal (I didn’t have spring onions so used one red onion finely chopped)

Cut the belly into chunks about 5cm (2in) square. Put in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Skim off any scum. Strain the pork , rinse the pan and put the pork back in. Add about 1.5 litres (2 pints 15fl oz) fresh water (or light chicken stock ), plus all the other ingredients, setting aside half the spring onions . Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover tightly and leave to cook very gently for two hours, or until the pork is completely tender. Make sure it doesn’t boil dry – add more water if you need to.

Scoop out the pork with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the liquor by boiling until you have a good flavour. Return the pork to the liquid and heat through. Serve in bowls with the rest of the spring onions sprinkled over the top. Serve with noodles or boiled rice, plus some kind of stir-fried greens – cabbage or pak choi. I got a bag of vegetables from M&S, which I quickly stir-fried with some oyster sauce.

Update: I made it again and this time I reduced the liquor to a syrupy reduction. This turns the dish from nice to fantastic!

Quick chicken stir-fry with peppers, water chesnuts and onion

This is truly one of the improvised quick dishes. I was going to make chicken with okra Louisiana style but discovered that the okra has gone bad. So I had to regroup and stir-fry was the easiest (and fastest) option:

Ingredients:
Takes 10-15 mins (if you are fast chopper!)

groundnut oil
2 chicken breasts diced
2 garlic cloves
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger finally chopped
1 fresh green chilli finely chopped, use whole, do not deseed if you want a bit of kick
1 medium sized red onion chopped into slices so they retain shape and crispness
1 bell pepper cut into square pieces
1 can of water chestnuts
handful of cashews
packet of Amoy Teryiaki sauce

In a wok heat 1-2 tbsp of oil, fry the garlic, chilli and ginger. Throw in the cashews so they fry in the oil before everything else goes in. Add the chicken and fry for 3-4 mins depending on the size of the cubes. Add the water chestnuts cook for a minute, then add the pepper and onion and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the sauce, turn down the heat and stir for about a minute. Serve immediately.

Quick stir-fried pork with peppers, carrots & cashews

This is one of those dishes I make when I have bits of vegetables left in the fridge, a few peppers about to wilt, a carrot, bits of ginger, fresh chillis etc. It can take anything that is crunchy after stir-frying and the meat can be beef or pork. I use Ken Hom’s marinade from Chinese Cookery, which I don’t think would work that well with chicken.

Tonight I used what was in the fridge:
1 yellow pepper chopped into square chunks
1 small carrot roll cut
2 fresh red chilli finely chopped
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger finely chopped
1 large pork steak cut into strips
1 small onion sliced lengthways
1 clove garlic finelly chopped
handful of cashew nuts ideally roasted or dry-fried beforehand
(other ingredients I could have used from my cupboard – canned water chesnuts or bamboo shoots)

Marinade:
1 tsp cornflour
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
2 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt

Cut the meat in narrow strips 1 1/2 inch long, mix well with the marinade and set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Heat groundnut oil in a wok until smokes and flash fry chilli, garlic and ginger for a minute. Add meat and continue to fry it on high, for about 2-3 minutes or until you can’t see any raw or pink bits. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes or longer – reaching the fine line between the meat being done and the vegetables still being crispy. If things look a bit dry, I add several squirts of catsup, the asian brown variety – I bought mine at local M&S and it’s called Kecap Manis (can’t find it anywhere online).

I normally serve this with basmati rice (Waitrose aromatic), adding turmeric to the boiling water for colour. I find jasmine tea to be the best drink accompanying chinese food in general.