Twice roasted spicy whole duck with nectarines or peaches
( SERVES 4 )
For something a bit different this Christmas, try this beautiful pairing of duck and summer stone fruits.
- Set the oven to 150C.
- Take a sharp knife and remove the neck and tail. Cut each duck in half, by slicing through the middle down the length of the breast, then flattening it out and cutting through the length of the back. Wipe the halves dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
- Place the chopped vegetables in a roasting pan with the star anise and thyme, then place the duck halves rib-cage down on top. Bring the water to a boil and tip into the pan. Cover tightly with tinfoil and place the dish in the oven. Allow the ducks to braise slowly for 2½ hours. The meat should be very tender. Allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, strain the pan juices into a large container. Allow this to set in the fridge and save the fat for other uses.
- You can make the sauce at this stage by deglazing the pan with the flour and stock (chicken or duck stock). Allow to bubble up while stirring for 5 minutes. Tip into a small saucepan for easy reheating later. Once the duck is cool, carefully remove the breast bones and rib cage. They should come away easily. Leave the wing and leg bones intact to give the duck shape.
- Forty-five minutes before you want to serve the duck, preheat the oven to 200C. Rub the skin with five-spice powder and a little salt and pepper. Place on a rack over a baking dish and roast for 25-30 minutes until the skin is crisp and the fat rendered. Reheat the sauce, adding the halved peaches or nectarines to warm.
- Serve the duck halves on a heated platter and tip the sauce and fruit over. Garnish with basil leaves and serve at once with roasted potatoes and fresh green beans. Serves 4 (or maybe 6 small appetites). Wine match: a rich pinot noir.