How to cook perfect crispy duck in 30 minutes at home

Jess Murphy: Crispy duck legs with clementine and sherry, spring onions, and satay carrot

Crispy duck legs with clementine and sherry

Crispy duck legs with clementine and sherry

 

Picture the scene: New Zealand, 1998, when the only duck I had ever eaten was mallard that we had usually shot ourselves.

It was only when I enrolled at a local hotel-and-restaurant-operation course that I got my first taste of that bird. I was 17 going on 18 – the “going on” being a very important distinction at the time; while everyone was off surfing, drinking beer, and lazing on the beach, I was attempting to learn the 100-year history of table linen and other dull subjects.

Being a more hands-on girl, I had left school at 15 to go wash dishes at a nearby neighbourhood restaurant. This was when I got swept up in the hustle and bustle of kitchen life, so it was no surprise that I ended up going on to study it.   That was also the same year that we went for a class trip to Wellington.

Myself and my fellow students had booked the local YMCA and a fancy restaurant, one extreme to the other.

We were done up to the nines and back then that meant you wore as much frosted pink lipstick and satin as you could afford. I had a spiral perm and a yin and yang necklace, and Calvin Klein had just launched its new perfume, CK One, which took me 10 weeks of savings to afford.

There are two things I remember about that night: the first was the Singapore sling and the second was a confit duck leg, which was a revelation and is still one of my favourite dishes of all time.

I’m sharing my version with clementines and sherry today. Add a couple of Asian-inspired side dishes and you’ll have a feast. There’s always a jar of peanut butter hanging around the pantry, isn’t there? It’s useful for more than just spreading on toast or using to bait mousetraps, so everyone needs a satay sauce recipe in their repertoire. This one is mine.

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CRISPY DUCK LEGS WITH CLEMENTINE AND SHERRY

Yes it’s rich, yes it’s indulgent, but, seriously, as an occasional treat this dish is well worth it. You can confit your own duck legs, but I recommend you buy your duck already confited. (I get mine from Sheridan’s.)

Crispy duck legs with clementine and sherry
Crispy duck legs with clementine and sherry

Ingredients
2 packs (4 legs) duck confit
100ml Oloroso sherry
200ml clementine juice
5 crushed garlic cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
4 clementines (sliced in half)
To garnish
Handful of tinned pitted prunes  Sprig of rosemary

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C  Place the duck legs in an appropriately sized roasting dish and pour over the sherry and clementine juice.   Scatter the crushed garlic and cardamom pods over the duck.  Add the cinnamon stick, star anise and halved clementines and and place the dish in the oven for 30 mins.  

If you’re unsure whether it’s ready, fork the meat a little and if it falls easily away from the bone, you’re good to go. 

Garnish with a handful of prunes and a sprig of rosemary.

FRIED SPRING ONIONS WITH DRIED CHILLI

The heart doesn’t often flutter at the sight of spring onions on the menu – and why would it? But I guarantee after trying these tasty morsels, your heart just might skip a beat. Love at first bite.

Fried spring onions with dried chilli  
Fried spring onions with dried chilli  

Ingredients
4 bunches of spring onions
25ml sesame oil
25ml soy sauce
20g Korean dried chillies
1 large bunch of coriander

Method
Heat the sesame oil in a pan at medium heat. Chop the spring onions into quarters lengthways and fry on the pan for one minute with the soy sauce. Stir well so all the onions are coated, then take off the heat and garnish with dried Korean chilli flakes and chopped coriander. Serve immediately.

CARROTS WITH BLACK SESAME AND SATAY

Carrots with black sesame and satay
Carrots with black sesame and satay

Ingredients
400g carrot, cut into wide ribbons
1 fresh chilli, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
20g ginger, diced
1tsp muscovado sugar
1tsp soy sauce
3tbsp peanut butter
200ml coconut milk
15g black sesame

Method
For your satay sauce, put the chilli, onion, garlic, and ginger in a pan and fry on a medium heat until the onions are soft.

Add the muscovado sugar and allow to caramelise a little.

Add the soy sauce, peanut butter and coconut milk and stir thoroughly.

Put the sauce mixture into the food processor, and blitz until you reach a smooth consistency.  Pour over the carrot ribbons and serve.

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