Roast duck with garlic and pepper or paprika, stuffed with damsons

This is a slightly fancied-up version of a recipe that I like to make on the rare occasions when I can afford a good-quality duck; Gressingham duck is particularly good for this dish. Damsons are a small, tarter-tasting relative of the plum; if you can’t find them or don’t like them, use ordinary plums instead.

Ingredients (quantities as shown serve 2 or 3):

  • 1 whole duck, plucked, de-gibleted, and ready for roasting

  • garlic paste

  • black peppercorns or powdered paprika

  • 171g/6oz potatoes, rounded up to the nearest whole potato

  • 200g/7oz damsons or plums (if stones still in) OR 100g/3½ oz of same (if stones already removed) (Note: the quantities in grams are a little pedantic; you can measure the plums/damsons in handfuls if you wish – one or two average adult handfuls should be fine)

Method:

  1. Remove the duck from its packaging and, if it’s one of those ones that have the giblets inside, vacuum-sealed in plastic, remove those as well – plastic-roast duck would only be edible to Discworld dwarfs. The giblets can be boiled up for stock (to go in a stew or an adaptation of this recipe, which is used for this). If you don’t want to boil the giblets for stock, they can be blasted under a medium grill for 20 minutes or so and used as nibbles to sustain the chef. ;P

  2. Put some clingfilm over your kitchen scales, re-zero them, and weigh the duck. Make a careful note of this figure – it is vital to calculating the correct cooking time.

  3. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting tin and pierce it all over with a fork or sharp knife. Duck tends to be quite fatty, so this piercing helps some of the fat flow out during cooking, making the finished roast less greasy.

  4. Wash your hands and work surfaces thoroughly after handling the raw duck, being careful not to let splashback from the cleaning liquids come into contact with the meat. Once you have done this, scrub the potatoes of any soil still clinging to them but leave the skin on so as not to lose valuable nutrients. Slice the potatoes thickly (1cm-1.5cm) and place them in the roasting tin, under the duck. They will cook in the duck’s juices while the bird is roasting; this will add extra flavour.

  5. Take your damsons or plums. If they still have their stones inside, remove them by cutting around the circumference of each fruit with a small sharp knife and pulling them apart. Once all of the stones have been removed, place the flesh of the fruit inside the duck’s internal cavity. The juices from the fruit will impart their flavour to the meat during the roasting, as well as keeping it moist. Once the roasting is finished, the stuffing can be eaten as an accompaniment to the main dish.

  6. Once the duck is stuffed, smear garlic paste all over it, turn it right way up. If you are using whole peppercorns, crush them in a pepper grinder or a pestle and mortar and sprinkle them over the duck so that they stick to the garlic paste. If you are using paprika, sprinkle it gently over the duck from the packaging until you feel that you have enough. Don’t overdo it though – too thick a layer won’t taste good.

  7. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Roast your duck for 20 minutes per imperial pound (lb) of meat, plus 20 minutes and rounded up to the nearest quarter-hour (or, for metric users, 45 minutes per kilogram, plus 15 minutes). Once the duck is done, remove from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes or so to allow the juices to redistribute themselves through the meat. Serve with the roast potatoes and any green vegetables you like.

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