Duck and citrus is a classic combination that can’t be overlooked. Don’t be scared of cooking duck, as it’s not really as tricky as people would have you believe. This would be lovely served with a side of lentils and a nice green salad. Any leftover duck sauce from this recipe can be kept in the freezer and used at will.
- 4 duck marylands
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 4 cloves garlic, gently bashed
- 2 long red chillies, sliced lengthways
- 3 blood oranges
- 100 g sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- water, to cover
- olive oil
- river salt and black pepper, to season
- 2 litres chicken stock, approximately
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time overnight
In a small container, layer your duck with the peppercorns, fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic and chilli. Cover and leave them to sit in the fridge overnight.
The next day, pull your duck out of the fridge about 1 hour before you wish to cook it.
While you are waiting around for your duck you can start your blood orange puree. Place your oranges in a small pot, sprinkle over the sugar, add a bay leaf and cover with water. Cut out a small round of baking paper to place on top and weigh the oranges down with a small plate, making sure they are fully submerged. Place on the stove, bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 2 hours.
Now back to our ducks. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place a large heavy-based frying pan on the stove on a very low to medium heat, give it a little splash of olive oil and then place each duck leg, seasoned with salt and black pepper, into the pan skin-side down. (Reserve all the herby bits because we shall use these in our braise.)
Now, this step can take up to half an hour. What you need to do is leave the duck on a low heat to render off some of the fat so you can get a nice crispy skin. You’ll see a lot of fat coming off into the pan so, at regular intervals, use some tongs and dexterity to strain off the excess fat. You’ll probably need to do this about 4-5 times. Patiently continue with this step until you have a nice crispy brown skin.
Meanwhile, have your stock warming in another pot.
In a small baking dish, lay out the herby bits and, once your duck is brown and delightful looking, place on the top, skin-side up. You want the duck to have enough room to lay flat but to still fit a little snugly.
Pour over enough stock to cover the bottom of the legs and to come up just to the top of the duck. You want to see the skin poking up above the liquid.
Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the oven. Now ignore them for the next 1½ hours and go and make your puree.
After 2 hours of simmering your blood oranges should be soft and starting to fall apart. Strain off the liquid, place the oranges in a bowl and use a knife to open them up and check for any seeds.
Place the oranges in a blender, skin and all, and buzz until smooth. Then get your handy drum sieve to pass your puree to make it extra smooth. Once passed, add a good splash of oil and seasoning. The puree should be quite bitter but with a hint of sweetness. Keep it in a handy spot to warm again when your duck is ready to serve.
Now let’s have a look at our duck. To check if it is cooked, pull the dish out, remove the foil without giving yourself a steam burn and, with a pair of tongs, give the drumstick a gentle tug. It should be yielding. If it’s still feeling a little firm, re-cover and place it back in the oven and continue to cook for a little longer. The duck shouldn’t take longer than 2 hours to cook.
Once you are satisfied with the softness of the duck, pull out of the oven, carefully remove the legs and leave them to sit on another tray or plate while you deal with what will become your sauce.
Strain off your braising liquor and let it settle for a good 10 minutes, until the fat has risen to the top and can be skimmed. Put the remaining liquid in a pot on the stove and gently reduce by half.
Once your sauce is ready, we will give the legs some extra pan time to get our skin nice and extra crispy. Simply place a large frying pan on medium heat, splash in a little oil and gently fry the legs again, skin-side down. This should only take a couple of minutes. If you feel your duck has cooled down too much while you were waiting for your braising liquor to reduce, pop it in in the pan skin-side down in a preheated oven at 180°C for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, heat your puree and taste your sauce.
To serve, place the puree on a large warm platter, arrange the duck legs on top and spoon the sauce over. Finish with a splash of olive oil and a little extra sprinkle of salt.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd.