This is probably the worst photo I’ve ever put on this blog – this duck is out of focus and really ought to have been photographed later, once it was plated up. There’s a reason for this – the little guy was smelling so good that the hordes gathered around the table had the duck carved, chewed and well on the way to being digested about fifteen seconds after the shutter closed.
I’ve mentioned roasting ducks before in relation to collecting the fat for use in potato dishes later. This recipe should ensure you a perfectly crisp, deliciously seasoned and glazed skin, fragrant and toothsome flesh, and plenty of delicious creamy gravy to anoint the meat. A large duck like this (the plate it’s sitting on is a giant one) should serve four.
1 large duck
2 spring onions
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 bunch tarragon
1 bunch parsley
250 ml stock (use a good pre-prepared stock or make your own with the bird’s giblets)
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon quince jelly (use redcurrant jelly if you can’t find quince)
1 glass white wine
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 ½ teaspoons light soya sauce
Remove the bag of giblets from inside the carcass before you begin, and use the contents to make stock. Take any poultry fat out of the inside of the duck along with any excess skin, and use it to make gratons.
Dry the duck carefully inside and out with kitchen paper. Use a fork to prick the skin all over the bird (this will help excess fat to escape and help the skin to crisp beautifully), and place the halved lemon and the spring onions inside its cavity. Mix the salt and the spices together in a bowl, and rub the skin well with them, keeping a teaspoon of the mixture to one side. Sprinkle any remaining rub inside the bird. Place on a rack in a baking tray in an oven preheated to 200° C (400° F) for 45 minutes per kilogramme plus 15 minutes, basting every half hour with its own fat. (The duck will release a lot of fat; that rack is there to make sure that the bird doesn’t sit in the fat and burn.)
Chop the herbs very finely and combine them with the quince jelly in a separate bowl.
To make the sauce, take the stock and bring to a simmer, reducing until flavourful. Stir the cornflour into the cold glass of wine and tip the mixture into the bubbling stock with the crème fraîche and the teaspoon of rubbing mixture you reserved when you prepared the duck. Keep the pan on a low simmer.
Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, use a teaspoon to ‘paint’ the uppermost skin of the duck with the jelly and herb mixture and return the bird to the oven. Keep a teaspoon full of the jelly/herb mixture and stir it into the sauce. Taste the sauce and add more jelly or tarragon and salt if you think it needs it.
The duck will be beautifully glazed, its skin crisp and savoury from the spice rub. Rest the bird for five minutes once it comes out of the oven and serve with roast potatoes, a sharp salad to cut the richness of the flesh, and some green vegetables. Remember to decant the fat from the roasting tin into a large jar to keep in the fridge for roasting and frying potatoes.