Versatile, robust and flavoursome, duck offers some of the finest meat of all the poultry birds. Yet we eat relatively little of it – especially when compared to our consumption of chicken. At Pipers Farm, our ducks are slow grown and free range, which gives their meat not only a delicious taste, but exceptional texture, too. A good layer of tasty fat adds an extra flavour dimension and ensures the meat stays moist. Duck is a much-favoured meat in Asian and Oriental cuisines, reflecting its ability to stand up to punchy ingredients such as ginger, chilli and aromatic spices. It’s also an excellent foil for rich fruits and lush sauces, making it a perfect choice at Christmas.
So why not try something a bit different this year and spice up the festivities with some delicious duck dishes?
For wonderfully sticky Chinese Duck Wings put 1 kg of duck wings into a disposable roasting bag with 8 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 50g of grated fresh ginger, a chopped red chilli, 4 tbsp groundnut oil, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 5 tbsp rice wine, 5 tbsp light soy sauce, 5 tbsp runny honey and 1 tbsp of Chinese 5-Spice powder. Leave to marinate for a few hours then cook at 160°C for an hour and a half. Serve hot from the oven and prepare to get very messy indeed!
Gently poach some duck legs or duck wings for about half an hour, once cool pick off the tender meat. Mix in a saucepan with a few dollops of a good Thai green curry paste, add a can of coconut milk, some sugar snap peas and sliced red pepper. Simmer until the veg is al dente and serve with jasmine rice for a fragrant and satisfying Thai Duck Curry.
Pop a whole duck in a deep casserole dish alongside a bulb of garlic smashed into cloves, a handful of herbs and a big dollop of redcurrant jelly. Pour in enough dry cider to cover two thirds of the bird then cover and cook at 180°C for about an hour and a half. Once cooked, blitz up the cider, garlic and herbs from the pan to make a delicious gravy and serve your Pot Roast Duck in Cider with some creamy mash and crunchy green veg.
For a festive palate-cleanser, sear two duck breasts, skin side down, in a hot frying pan until the skin crisps and the fat begins to render. Transfer to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes at 200°C, then remove from the oven to rest. While the duck’s resting, combine in a jar 1 tbsp rinsed and chopped capers with a small clove of grated garlic, a finely chopped spring onion, 1 tbsp grainy mustard, 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil. Shake well. Toss together some baby spinach and lamb’s lettuce with a segmented orange, some quickly cooked green beans and the caper dressing. Slice the meat generously, arrange it atop the tangy greens and serve your Duck and Orange Salad sprinkled with toasted walnuts.
To make an indulgent Confit Duck Leg, start by rubbing some duck legs with toasted and crushed cumin and coriander seeds, crushed juniper berries and flaky Malden salt. Put into a tub and leave to marinate for 24 hours. Next day, brush off the salt and spices, lay the legs in a heavy casserole dish, cover with goose or duck fat and add a couple of bay leaves and a sprinkle of black peppercorns. Cook at a gentle simmer for about 2 and a half hours. Once cooked, store in an airtight box, with the legs fully covered in fat – they’ll last for some weeks in this state. To serve, remove the legs from the fat, fry in a hot pan until the skin is browned then transfer to the oven (heated to 200°C) for about 30 minutes until crispy. Accompany with dauphinoise potatoes and a crisp salad.