Slow-roast duck legs with sweet-sour plums
( SERVES 8 )
This recipe gives you slightly more plums than you need, but cooking fewer doesn’t work very well (the small amount of juice the fruit produces just evaporates). Just make the quantity here and keep the leftovers in the fridge; their sweet-sour fruitiness is perfect with cold meats, terrines and pâtés and pork chops. I’ve kept them for a good six months in the past. Once you’ve made the plums, all you have to do on the day is roast the duck legs (there isn’t even any carving) and make a side dish. Green salad with hazelnut oil dressing is good, as well as something starchy.
This recipe is from How to Eat a Peach (Hachette RRP$44.99) the 10th book from much-awarded UK food writer Diana Henry.
For the plums
For the duck
- Heat the oven to 160C. 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.
- When you’re ready to cook the duck, preheat the oven to 180C. 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 the duck with the plums and some mashed potatoes, celeriac mash, potatoes sautéed in duck fat, or even a barley pilaf.