This is one of two recipes we use to prepare a dish of braised duck (the other one was posted last year). It began as a recipe by leading Melbourne chef Andrew McConnell, but we have made several significant changes to the original concept.
2 premium quality Duck marylands
4 French (brown) shallots, peeled and finely chopped
40ml medium-dry sherry
2 tsp verjuice
20g fig or quince paste
140ml chicken stock
½ a fresh bay leaf or 1 dried leaf (yes, a fresh bay leaf is more intense than a dry one)
15g toasted walnut kernels, finely chopped
- Heat a heavy-based non-stick pan until it is hot, then lower the heat.
- Place duck pieces skin-side down in the pan, cover 90% with a lid – this reflects both heat and duck fat back into the pan. Turn duck after 5 minutes and cook for a further 3 minutes. Transfer duck to a plate.
- Preheat oven to 140C.
- Heat a smallish flameproof casserole over low heat, add about 30ml of the rendered duck fat, add the shallot and sauté for 6 minutes.
- Add the sherry to the pan and let it bubble gently. Stir the verjuice and fig paste to combine well and add to the pan (if you add the paste whole it can be fiddly to integrate it with the contents of the pan).
- Optional step: if there are duck remnants on the base of the pan from step 2, you could use the stock to help remove them before you proceed to step 7.
- Add stock and bay leaf to the pan, stir well, add the duck pieces and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.
- Cook for 80 minutes, turning duck pieces after 40 minutes then again after 70 minutes. Reduce oven temperature a little if the sauce is bubbling stronger than a gentle simmer. Turn oven off, remove casserole lid and leave duck in oven for 10 minutes to gently glaze the skin.
- Remove casserole from the oven and, when the contents are sufficiently cool, cover again and place in the fridge overnight. Next day, it will be easy to remove the duck fat from the chilled surface of the dish. (Check out the photo below, for the sake of your arteries!)
- Heat casserole gently on the cook-top. When the contents are heated through, transfer the duck pieces to a warm plate. Add the walnut to the sauce and stir it through to thicken the sauce slightly.
- To serve, spoon sauce over duck.