This dish was inspired by a Nigella Lawson recipe I saw a while back and have been saving for a special occasion. I felt that it was missing for one, a sauce, and then second to that some nice fresh vegetables to dress it up a little, so this is my own jazzed up version.
The reason for me cooking this up on a random Friday night was as a practice run for an upcoming dinner party. I wanted (needed) to make sure that the sauce and vegetables would all come together with the duck and the super crispy duck fat potatoes, as if not, I then at least had a week to work on other alternatives….
Kind of a shame it worked as I really wouldn’t have minded roast duck for five days… although I am sure my arteries would not have agreed!
This is a perfect dish if you are entertaining as the prep literally takes 10-15 minutes, including cooking up the duck, then you can slam it in the oven and literally check in on it every half hour, the sauce takes again around 15 tops and can also be made in advance.
That’s it really, the rest of the time can be spent playing host and wowing your guests.
Guess what….. There is also not too much washing up generated either so it’s a win win!
Feeds 2 and can be doubled for extra guests
Prep time 10-15 mins
Cook time 1 hour 30 – 2 hours
For the main –
2 decent sized duck legs
Handful of thyme sprigs
500g potatoes washed and cut into 3/4cm cubes (any variety will do fine)
12 Chantenay carrots
Decent handful of green beans per person, topped and tailed
1 large garlic clove crushed
2 knobs of butter
2/3 tsp honey
Plum sauce –
2-3 ripe plums roughly chopped
1 tbsp veg oil
100ml red wine
300ml beef stock, from a cube is fine
1/2 star anise
2 dessert spoons of plum jam
Large pan for the veg
Medium/large frying pan
Large roasting tin
Chef’s tips: –
Sauce can be made in advance.
The two-person sauce above will 100% feed four so don’t worry about doubling that part of the recipe.
Glover’s tipple of choice: –
Preferably with duck a nice bottle of French red won’t go amiss; we had a nice 2014 Cotes du Rhone but you could try a Burgundy Pinot Noir or another of my faves, a Beaujolais!
Pre heat your oven to 200/fan 180/gas 6.
The duck and potatoes are cooked in the oven so you have two options: 1st off is frying them in an oven proof pan that is big enough for both legs and potatoes, or, you can pan fry, then transfer into a large roasting tin if cooking for more than 2.
Take your duck legs and heat your frying pan over a med/high heat. When hot enough place the legs skin side down into the pan to get all the nice fat rendering; you don’t need any oil as the legs will release a lot of tasty fat!
While the duck is browning, slice your potatoes into 4-5cm chunks. You don’t have to be too picky with this, just roughly chop them.
Once the duck skin has browned a little and released some of its fat, remove from the heat and turn them meat side down.
Place your potatoes around the duck legs, giving them a bit of a shake around as you go to coat in some of the fat. Some will have to sit on top of others etc. unless the pan is large enough to fit them all in.
Throw in the thyme sprigs around the duck, sprinkle over some of the leaves and season with some salt and pepper.
Slam it into the oven and pour yourself a glass of wine, set a timer for 30 minutes.
Sauce time – Roughly chop and remove the pip from the plums.
Place a tablespoon of vegetable oil into a small pan and bring this up to a high heat and then thrown in the plums.
Cook these for 2-3 minutes until a little coloured/browned, then pour in the wine and the half star anise and cook it down by a third.
Once cooked down it will start to look thick and jammy so now pour in the beef stock and the jam; don’t worry that it smells beefy as this will cook out and leave you with a really sweet thick plum sauce.
Bring the sauce to a high simmer and cook it down for 10 minutes, stirring often until it gets to your desired thickness.
If the sauce for whatever reason refuses to thicken, then add in some cornflour mixed with water which will do the job.
Remove from the heat, cover and leave until ready to serve.
The duck and potatoes will take around one and a half to two hours, the duck will be cooked after an hour and a half easy and the potatoes should also be that good mix of crispy and some slightly soft/melt in the mouth!
Every half hour give all of the potatoes a good mix and shake around to get them coated in all of that luscious duck fat and thyme and put back into the oven.
15 minutes before the duck is done bring a large pan of water to the boil, throw in your carrots and boil them for 10 minutes until a little tender.
In the meantime, put a large knob of butter into a frying pan and a minute before your carrots are ready heat the butter up. When ready remove the carrots with a slotted spoon and transfer them into the frying pan giving them a good shake to coat in all of the butter.
Put a low heat under your plum sauce and keep an eye on it as it heats up so that it does not burn.
Throw the beans into the pan of water and boil for 5 minutes.
While the beans are cooking, keep the carrots moving around and pour over the two tsp of the honey, giving them a good shake to coat.
The carrots will take on an epic colour while they are frying but keep the heat over medium flame to avoid any burning.
Remove the carrots from the heat, drain your beans and place back in the pan with another knob of butter. Crush the garlic clove directly into this and then thrown the beans around to coat.
Grab your tray or pan of duck and potatoes from the oven, while trying not to sample too many potatoes as you go, and plate it up as you wish.
Get the carrots and place these on the plate, again as you wish, and the same with the beans.
Remove the sauce from the heat and spoon a couple of large spoonfuls onto of the duck leg, letting it puddle onto the plate.
There will be a lot left over so you can take it to the table and add more as you go.
Sit down, relax and enjoy.