Roast duck dinner

Last weekend I decided to roast a (german) duck I had in the freezer (and to free up the space for another one!). I still had some red cabbage, parsnips and pears in the larder from the Christmas break, so I bought some brussels sprouts for a partial re-enactment of the highly succcessful Christmas dinner. Here are some photos of the lavish affair:

IMG_7680 by alecmuffett IMG_7682 by alecmuffett IMG_7684 by alecmuffett IMG_7689 by alecmuffett IMG_7690 by alecmuffett IMG_7695 by alecmuffett IMG_7698 by alecmuffett IMG_7702 by alecmuffett IMG_7711 by alecmuffett IMG_7713 by alecmuffett

I used Delia’s roast duck recipe which worked really well, even in my thermostat-busted oven. I took it out almost an hour before it was due according to the recipe and the duck was cooked to perfection – crispy skin but juicy meat. Will test in new oven and report on timing again.

Ingredients

1 oven -ready duck weighing 2.25kg (5lb) to 2.7kg (6lb)
salt flakes
freshly milled black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC, 425ºF gas mark 7. Prepare the duck by wiping it as dry as possible with kitchen paper. Then, using a small skewer, prick the fatty bits of the skin, particularly between the legs and the breast. Now either place it on the roasting rack in the tin or make a rack yourself by crumpling the kitchen foil and placing it in the bottom of the roasting tin. Season with salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper, using quite a lot of salt, as this encourages crunchiness. Now place the tin on a highish shelf of the pre-heated oven.

After 20 minutes turn the heat down to gas mark 4. 180ºC / 350ºF / gas mark 4, then basically that’s all you have to do is leave it alone for 2½ hours (or 30 minutes longer for a 2.7 kg bird). During the cooking time, using an oven glove to protect your hands, remove the tin from the oven and drain the fat from the corner of the tin – do this about 3 times (the fat is brilliant for roast potatoes, so don’t throw it away).

When the cooking time is up the duck skin should sound crisp when it is tapped with a knife; if it’s not, pop it back in the oven for a bit longer, then when it’s cooked allow the duck to rest for 5 minutes or so, then divide it into portions: all you need to do is cut the bird in half lengthways (ie, along the length of the breast then either side of the backbone) with a sharp knife, then cut the halves into quarters, leaving any escaped pieces of bone behind. (You may need some help with some kitchen scissors here.) Serve with the sauce poured around so as not to lose the crispness of the skin.

Featured side-dishes:
Red cabbage with apples & juniper berries
Brussels sprouts with parmesan & almonds
Roast parsnips and pears with thyme

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Red cabbage

This has very Chrismassy flavours and so I usually make this cabbage for Christmas dinner. Following this year, I decided to add it as a regular side dish to roast duck whenever I make it.

Ingredients:
1 large cabbage, halved and cut into 2cm strips
3 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 tbs molasses sugar
the juice from 3 oranges
cider winegar (or 2/3 white vinegar + 1/3 apples juice)
10 juniper berries crushed
the peel of two oranges stripped with a potato peeler
1/2 tsp mixed spice (my addition to the original recipe)

Add the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pan (I used 28cm Le Creuset casserole pot), then layer the ingredients, starting with a third of the cabbage, then a spoonful of sugar, the juice of an organge, a splosh of vinegar and a few juniper berries, sprinkle bit of mixed spice. Season. Repeat the layers twice more, bring up to a simmer very gently, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Stir after about an hour, then again after another hour. Add more orange juice if the liquid level looks too low. Blanch the strips of peel, then cut into 1cm pieces. Stir through the cooked cabage and serve.