SLOW-ROAST DUCK LEGS WITH SWEET-SOUR PLUMS

Epicure - - COOKBOOK CRITIC -

Serves 8

for the plums

1.2kg (2lb 12oz) plums, prefer­ably with crim­son flesh

200ml (7fl oz) white wine vine­gar or cider vine­gar

200ml (7fl oz) red wine

500g (1lb 2oz) gran­u­lated or soft light brown sugar, or to taste

½ tbsp co­rian­der seeds, crushed

½ tbsp yel­low mus­tard seeds

1 cin­na­mon stick, bro­ken in half

3 blades of mace seeds from 8 car­damom pods, ground

2 red chill­ies, halved, de­seeded and finely sliced • Pre­heat the oven to 160°C / 325°F / gas mark 3. Halve and pit the plums and put them in a roast­ing tin with all the other plum in­gre­di­ents. The plums have to be able to lie in a sin­gle layer. Bake for about 45 min­utes. Now have a look and taste. You may need to ad­just the sugar, de­pend­ing on how tart the fruit is. Put the tin back into the oven and cook un­til the mix­ture is glossy and the chunks of soft plum are sur­rounded by a rich, thick syrup; this can take any­thing from 1½ to 2½ hours, de­pend­ing on how ripe and juicy the plums are, and you’ll need to check ev­ery so of­ten to see how they are do­ing and to stir them gen­tly. Re­mem­ber that syrups thicken as they cool. If you find that the plums are very dark, but you still have too much liq­uid, drain it off and re­duce it by boil­ing, then re­turn it to the plums. Leave to cool, then keep in the fridge, but re­turn to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore serv­ing. for the duck

10 rose­mary sprigs

10 gar­lic cloves

8 duck legs sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pep­per

• When you’re ready to cook the duck, pre­heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas mark 4. Lay the rose­mary sprigs and gar­lic cloves in a roast­ing tin in which the duck legs can lie in a sin­gle layer (you may need 2 tins) and ar­range the duck on top. Sprin­kle with salt and pep­per and roast for 1 hour, then check to see whether the duck is cooked through. (Strain off the duck fat and keep it for roast­ing po­ta­toes an­other day.)

• Serve duck with the plums and some mashed po­ta­toes, cele­riac mash, po­ta­toes sautéed in duck fat, or even a bar­ley pi­laf.

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