Roast Duck is a meal which I’ve wanted to cook for a while, and despite initially wanting to make it on the 30th December but couldn’t due to fog (see Part 1), we moved our little Christmas to New Year’s Day, and therefore it unintentionally fell into the cliché of using a new year to try something for the first time. Oh well, clichés are clichés because they work.

Having never cooked duck before, I enlisted the help of Jamie Oliver, and a particular recipe of his grabbed my attention because it was a way of roasting meat which I hadn’t tried before. It was along the lines of rotisserie, without the rotating, but instead marinating the bird before putting it directly onto the oven rack to cook, and putting the vegetables underneath on a roasting tray, therefore allowing the juices of the bird and the oranges to roast them, rather than treating them as two separate components of the dish.

If I was to do this all over again, I would allow an hour and a half tops cooking time, rather than the instructed two hours, as I found the meat to be a little overdone. However, that is just me and my oven, for others, two hours could be just the right amount of time. As I live in an old , Parisian building, it did not come with an oven, as is the case with most apartments in the city, so I had to order mine from Amazon, and it sits below our kitchen table. I love it dearly, but it does tend to cook things a lot more ferociously than I’d like.

This was a very festive dish, and of course, I swapped Maris Piper potatoes for sweet potatoes and used as many organic ingredients as possible. Leave at least three hours for marinating.

Ingredients:

– 1kg whole duck
– 4 cloves garlic
– 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into large chunks

For the marinade:
– 1tsp nutmeg
– 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed (I don’t have a thyme plant so when I do buy it, I keep it in the freezer)
– Zest of one orange

For the gravy:
– 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
– 2 large celery sticks, roughly chopped
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 750ml water
– 1tbsp plain flour
– 125ml port
– 2 bay leaves
– 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
– 1tbsp unsalted butter

Method:

– In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, thyme leaves, nutmeg, and a large pinch of salt, before rubbing all over the duck, cover and place in the fridge for at least three hours.
– Preheat the oven to 180°C, and place a rack on the middle shelf and a baking tray on the bottom. Stuff the orange halves and garlic in the duck cavity and place directly on the middle rack. Scatter the carrots, cinnamon sticks, celery, bay leaves and shallots on the baking tray.
– Meanwhile, parboil the potatoes for 5-10 minutes, drain, place on a new baking tray and season (I scattered a little bit of cumin and turmeric on them along with black pepper and salt).
– After 45 minutes, take out the bottom tray and replace with the sweet potatoes. Place the contents of the first tray into a saucepan with the water, making sure to get all the juices from the duck, bring to a simmer and cover.
– In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, scatter in the flour and stir until it has formed a paste. Mix in the port before adding the contents of the first saucepan, simmer and cover.
– 45 minutes after you placed the sweet potatoes in the oven, taken out the duck, cover with foil and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
– Pour the gravy through a sieve, into a jug.
– You are now ready to serve. Along with the sweet potatoes, I wanted a little bit of green on our plates so wilted down some spinach and seasoned it with nutmeg.

Bon appetit!

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