Before I start proceedings, may I do some shameless self promotion? I know I’ve been doing a lot of pimping this past month (I’m actually starting to feel cheap lol) but I promise no more after this! I have two of my photos as finalists in the Eat Drink Blog photography competition and I need your support to increase my zero chance of winning to like, two percent? *grin*
More importantly, I wanted to thank you all for your kind words, lovely comments and for voting for me in the Nuffnang Blog Awards these past few weeks. I can’t wait to head over to Malaysia next week to fly the flag for Oz and Sydney (and food blogs of course) in the Best Photography category. It’s an awesome way to cap off the year and I can’t be more grateful, win or lose.
Alrighty, enough tripe about me!
This is probably an odd recipe to put on my blog because well, for a large portion of my life, I actually banned duck meat from my diet. Why? Because I use to live next to two large duck ponds and we lovingly ‘adopted’ them all. No joke. Every single Muscovy, Peking, Indian Runner, Mallard and Australia Wood duck had a name (yes I was the crazy duck lady of Cherrybrook). Plus we adopted a few special ones to our personal care after some unfortunate circumstances. My favourite one was a muscovy called Samuel who grew up to be Mr Aggressive Alpha Male. He use to attack my laundry. And my rubbish bags. And other people’s ankles. I miss that grumpy ol’ bastard so much.
NOT Samuel rest assured
So it wasn’t until recently that the ‘guilt’ faded and I slowly started to enjoy duck again. Months ago (yes months), I had a duck sent to me thanks to Game Farm but of course, life got in the way and this poor bugger sat undisturbed in a cryogenic slumber. Seeing as Christmas was around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to defrost it for a practice run (because nothing brings down the Christmas spirit quite like a ruined dinner. And nobody likes a dry bird).
I checked with a whole heap of recipes and tips on roasting whole ducks and settled on a simple approach. Stuffed with aromatics, slow roasted and coated with a glaze made from whatever was lying around. The result was amazing. The skin, sweet, sticky and glistening with the flavour of honey and port, was obviously the best part, while the meat was tender and lightly fragranced with lemon and thyme. But I confess, the duck itself, though delicious, was a bit sad looking. When I took it out of the packaging, it looked a little um, flat and anaemic and unfortunately was lacking in meat. In fact it was a little difficult to carve off the bone so be sure to choose a healthy bird that is plump and beefy looking for yourself.
Because of the richness of the meat, a simple vegetable side dish such as these fried brussel sprouts is perfect. I know I know, brussel sprouts are universally hated, especially by children but that’s only because you never had them quite like this. As in, not over-boiled, tasteless and bitter. These babies were fried with speck. And duck fat. Surely that warrants them a second chance? As for the sauce, the sweet and slightly tangy cherry and port number is fabulous. Or for a more fragrant (and Christmassy) alternative, try out this Mulled Wine Cherry Sauce.
There is less than 3 weeks left to go till the big day so what are you waiting for? Get quacking!
- 1.50-2kg whole duck
- 1/2 onion
- 4 fat cloves of garlic
- 1 wedge of lemon
- Few sprigs of thyme
- 2 Tbl maltose syrup
- 3 Tbl honey
- 150ml port
- 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
- A splash each of soy sauce and worcestershire
- 2 Tbl of duck fat
- 100g speck, sliced into 1cm batons
- 500g brussel sprouts
- 1 Tbl of duck fat
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 200ml port
- 200g of drained morello cherries (or if in season, 250g of fresh cherries, pitted and halved)
- 300ml chicken stock
- 2 Tbl of cherry jam (or plum jam)
- Preheat oven to 220°C and lightly grease the rack over a deep roasting tray.
- Prepare your duck by pulling out any innards and rinsing the cavity. Remove any stray feathers and snip off excess fat at the rear of the duck. Dry the inside and outside of the duck with paper towels.
- With a sharp knife, score the skin in a criss cross pattern (be careful not to pierce the meat under the layers of skin and fat). Cover the little wing and drumstick tips with a bit of foil (mine started to burn early on so I recommend this step).
- Rub sea salt and black pepper liberally over the skin and inside the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the onion, garlic, lemon and thyme and set aside while you prepare your glaze.
- To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until lightly thickened.
- Grab a pastry brush and paint a light coating of glaze all over the bird. Place the duck on the roasting rack, breast side up, and shove it in the oven.
- After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C and cook for a further 1.5 to 2 hrs or until duck is cooked and tender (juices would run clear if you pierced the thickest meatiest part of the leg). Every 20 minutes or so, baste the duck with more luscious glaze and a bit of the fat. If you wish, poke the duck all over with a metal skewer to release more fat.
- Note: My oven is a little primitive so to make sure the underside of the duck was evenly cooked and browned, I flipped the bird (breast side down) after about 30 minutes, glazed it and cooked for about 30 minutes before flipping back (and again, more glaze!!). This might not be necessary if your oven isn’t crappy like mine.
- When duck is ready, remove from oven, cover with foil and rest for at least 30 minutes. Strain the accumulated duck fat into a bowl/container (reserve 3 tablespoons) and store in the fridge for another use (duck fat oven roasted potatoes OMG).
- To make the sprouts, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the sprouts for 3 minutes until just cooked (but still crunchy). Drain, then tip into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking then drain well again.
- Heat up a pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of duck fat. Fry the speck until browned, then toss in the brussel sprouts and fry for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked but slightly crisp. Season to taste.
- Heat up the duck fat in a saucepan over medium heat, then sauté the shallots until softened but uncoloured.
- Increase the heat to high, deglaze the pan with the port and cook until most of the port has evaporated. Add the cherries, stock and jam, bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened to a light syrup consistency. If you wish, you could add cornflour to thicken it further.
- Brussel sprouts and cherry sauce recipes adapted from Gordon Ramsay.