Throughout the lockdown I have been trying to use ingredients that I won’t normally have the courage to cook with. After numerous searches for strange (to me) ingredients I came across a recipe for duck breast with a plum sauce. I was so eager to try this as I’ve only had duck breast a handful of times and growing up plums were a staple in our house. The idea of pairing the two together sounded delicious!
I rushed to ensure I get this added to my weekly shop order, including nice and ripe plums and baby potatoes. Much to my dismay the potatoes were huge, the plums were to be ‘ripen in bowl’ and the much anticipated duck breast has been substituted for duck legs… Slightly disappointed I got to work to create this dish with cupboard staples and substituted products (I ditched the potatoes entirely for this recipe!). It was so good, we’ve had it again soon after!
I found that the duck legs were slightly on the fatty side, however, this also ensured that the meat kept moist throughout the cooking process. It did not dry out despite the long cooking process or the fact that it remained uncovered the entire time it was in the oven.
I’ve read somewhere during my searches that duck goes incredibly well with Chinese Five Spice, but unfortunately I’ve just run out of that (I probably had the same bottle for a few years now!). After a bit of rummaging through my cupboard, I found a bottle of Sumac tucked away for a rainy day and I knew that this citrus-like flavour would be exactly what this little ducky would need. I was totally right – it is as if duck and sumac is a match made in heaven!
Oven-roasting duck legs were much easier than I initially thought. I really like a crispy skin on duck so I’ve decided that baking this in the oven low and slow will hopefully ensure that the duck is not only cooked through, but will also have that delightfully crispy skin that will crack under your teeth. For extra crispy skin, ensure that you pat the legs down with a paper towel to get rid of any unnecessary moisture before putting in the oven. Give it a sprinkling of salt and a drizzle of oil. At this stage I’ve also added the unripe plums (stoned and quartered) and then placed it uncovered in the oven. I’ve only turned the oven on to 160 degrees Celsius once the duck was in as I wanted the fat to render. I left this in for one hour.
After an hour the duck started to come on nicely, but needed some additional flavouring. Since I didn’t want the Sumac to burn and go bitter, I’ve only sprinkled it over the duck and plums after one hour in the oven. At this stage I also added cauliflower (some to the pan to bask in the duck fat and some to the side for the more healthier amongst us!) and dusted this with sumac also before putting back in the oven for another half an hour. This time I turned up the heat to 180 degrees Celsius. The cauliflower of course is entirely optional.
Once cooked, cover the duck in foil and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
In the meanwhile, I decided to make one of my trusty salads to go with the duck. We regularly eat salad as a main meal and today’s meal is no different really.
I’m totally in love with tabbouleh – a Middle-Eastern bulgur wheat salad with lovely green herbs and lemon. My version of this salad varies almost every time I make it, depending on what I have available in the fridge and cupboard.
This time round I decided to mix things up a bit and make this a multigrain salad. I used equal quantities of bulgur wheat and quinoa and cooked this for 15 minutes in salted water and a sliced garlic clove.
I then added some salad bits of halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, spring onion, chopped spinach leaves, chopped tender stem broccoli, juice and zest of one lemon and some more sumac along with salt and black pepper.
To make this dish a showstopper, use a large plate. Pile the salad in the middle and put the duck leg on top with a few of the cooked plums. You can also serve this with sumac-sprinkled roasted cauliflower.