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Be­gin this recipe at least 3 hours ahead. You will need a metal skewer.

1 bunch thyme 2kg whole duck, neck re­moved,

ex­cess fat re­served 2 baby fen­nel, quar­tered,

fronds re­served 8 brown es­chalots, peeled, halved length­ways (smaller ones left whole) 1 star anise 2 gar­lic cloves, finely chopped 300ml ap­ple cider 2 tbs sherry vine­gar 1kg kipfler pota­toes, scrubbed 4 blood plums, halved cross­ways,

stones re­moved

Pre­heat the oven to 150°C. Place half the thyme in the duck cav­ity and seal cav­ity with skewer. Place duck, breast-side down, and re­served duck fat in a cold, heavy­based, flame­proof casse­role with a fit­ted lid (press­ing duck to fit). Place over high heat and cook un­til siz­zling, then cook, turn­ing, for 18 min­utes or un­til golden all over. Set duck aside and strain fat into a heat­proof con­tainer. Re­turn casse­role to medium-high heat with 1 tbs duck fat. Add fen­nel, es­chalot, star anise, gar­lic and re­main­ing thyme leaves, and cook, stirring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 2 min­utes or un­til soft­ened slightly. Add cider and vine­gar, bring to the boil and cook, stirring reg­u­larly, for 3 min­utes to re­duce slightly. Add duck, breast-side up, cover and roast for 2 hours or un­til meat is fall­ing from wings.

Mean­while, place pota­toes in a saucepan, cover with cold wa­ter and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook for 15 min­utes or un­til ten­der. Drain, then when cool enough to han­dle, cut into 4cm slices. Trans­fer to a bak­ing tray and toss with 1/3 cup (80ml) re­served duck fat (add olive oil to make up mea­sure if nec­es­sary).

In­crease oven to 220°C. Add plums to duck and re­turn to oven. Place pota­toes on shelf be­low duck. Roast, turn­ing pota­toes half­way, for 20 min­utes or un­til duck is crisp and golden. Re­move pot roast and skim fat from sur­face with a la­dle. Rest for 10 min­utes. Cook pota­toes for a fur­ther 10 min­utes or un­til golden, then add to pot roast. Scat­ter with fen­nel fronds to serve.

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