Cost: £9 for duck, £3 for vegetables and about £0.50 worth of butter, cream and milk. Served 4 but I think really should have been a meal for 6-8!
For the last six months or so, since my siblings have been working in London, the four of us (brother, sister, husband and I) have become more than family – we are an impromptu dining club, taking turns to treat each other to world-class steak at Hawksmoor, neighbourhood meat artistry at Smokehouse, lobster and steak at the top of Heron Tower, tonkotsu ramen at Bone Daddies on an almost-monthly basis. But having lost my job over Christmas, we at the Low Ceilinged Kitchen household are on a pretty tight budget (expect many more low-cost recipes!) and so I thought we would have to sadly withdraw from Dining Club….unless my siblings were happy for us to taken our turn with dinners at home?
Last night they came over after work for Dining At Home Club – just as we lit the fireplace and a chubby loaf of sourdough emerged from the oven. We caught up on the weekend’s episode of The Voice over mojitos, rhubarb gin and tonics and the following menu:
Sourdough with salted butter and a tin of foie gras (a gift from a friend)
Slow roast duck stuffed with mashed potato, purple sprouting broccoli and frazzled leeks
Chocolate fondants with frozen berries and sour cream
The duck recipe is a word-of-mouth method from a chef called Johnny working for Theo Randall at the Intercontinental, who put on an amazing roast duck and pork lunch at a pop up before Christmas. He was kind enough to tell me his method, which is what mine was based on, although his duck was unstuffed and garlanded with fluffier, golden fat, unlike the glazed crisp carapace of mine. This duck yielded surprisingly little fat, with no layer of squidgy stuff in between the shattering skin and melting meat; I poured off the juices from the pan into a small jug and the top layer of fat (stored in a jar for roasting future potatoes) only measured a few tablepoons. The idea of stuffing with mashed potato is from a Simon Hopkinson recipe, but the method is different.
Recipe: Roast Duck stuffed with mashed potato
1 duck (I bought a large frozen duck which came with its giblets stuffed up its bottom)
2 kg floury potatoes (mine are bought from the market traders selling bowls of fruit and veg for £1 each; they are from Cyprus – the potatoes that is)
2 white onions
6-7 garlic cloves
Preheat the oven to 220C.
1. Remove all packaging from the duck, including the giblets and snip off the wing tips. Prick the duck skin (breast side up) with a tapestry needle and rinse with cold water. Dry the duck skin with paper towels and salt (table salt is fine. Leave to sit out in the roasting tin whilst you prepare the vegetables.
2. Wash the potatoes and halve lengthwise. Boil in salted water until tender and meanwhile prepare the duck and vegetables.
3. Finely dice the peeled carrot and onion and lay under the duck in the roasting tin. Scatter the unpeeled garlic cloves around the duck and tuck the bayleaf into the vegetables.
4. Dry the duck again, wiping away the salt and dry thoroughly with a hairdryer. Then sprinkle Maldon salt evenly over the duck and put the whole tray into the oven for 30 mins until the skin is bubbling, then turn the heat down to 130C and roast for 1 hour 45 mins.
5. During this time, as soon as the potatoes are tender, drain and carefully scoop out the insides into the potato pan, leaving the skins intact as much as possible. Put the empty skins onto a baking tray and slide into the oven on a shelf under the duck. Meanwhile mash the potatoes, with butter, cream and milk to taste as well as salt, pepper and a finely diced spring onion if you have one on hand. Then remove the duck from the oven and shovel as much potato as you can fit into the cavity and return to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time.
6. Whilst everything is cooking, fry the giblets in a little butter on a high heat until browned. Then slice and poach with the wing tips in salted water on a low heat.
7. When the duck has cooked, test that it is soft with a fork, then remove the duck and potato skins from the oven. Turn the heat up to 240c. Take the garlic cloves from the roasting tin and squeeze the soft interiors into the mashed potato and mash again. Then spoon the mashed potato into the potato shells, return to the oven with the duck and let everything crisp up for another 20 minutes or so, keeping an eye on the duck so it doesn’t burn.
7. Turn off the oven and put the duck on a carving board to rest. Plates can go into the turned-off oven with the potatoes to warm up. Pour the cooking juices and vegetables into a small measuring jug( the narrower it is, the easier it it to drain the fat). It will separate – carefully pour the fat into a jar which you can keep in the fridge. Mix the remaining dark roasting juices and vegetables with sieved giblet stock and taste your gravy for seasoning.
8. Serve the potatoes and duck with vegetables of your choice on warmed plates. The duck breasts should left easily away from the bone, and the meat on the underside should fall away in soft pink shreds, having braised/confited in its own juices.
The carcass can be added to the remaining giblet stock to make a strong duck soup, which can make a spinoff meal like a Chicken Noodle Soup bowl, or else as a stock for a cassoulet with dried beans, sausage, mirepoix, cooking bacon and any leftover duck.