Friday, 16 August 2013

Chuck-it-in-a-wok-and-see (my way): Roast duck with summer vegetables

Earlier this year, just in case you were on the opposite side of the world and didn't hear, a certain giraffe-loving cook was on an episode of MasterChef. I'm not mentioning this yet again just for the praise, plaudits and general admiration from my loyal fans (eh hem) - but actually because the dish I cooked a few nights ago reminded me of one of the audition rounds. 

The audition included a very long interview with the show's producers, in which they asked me how I learnt to cook. My reply was something along the lines of the following:

"Well, I think it's a bit of both my Mum and my Dad. My style tends to range from Mum's 'chuck it in a wok and hope' to Dad's more precise approach to making bread and baking."

This was one of the answers which was actually true. My relief when they didn't show the bit where I said that I'd just learnt how to cook soda bread in Ireland with my mother-in-law was palpable. 

Anyway, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you've probably picked up that I rather enjoy the 'chuck it in a stew / casserole / pan / oven and hope' approach to feeding the small giraffe that is the light of my life. And the other half, of course. It's a great system for end-of-the-day-after-work when all you want to do is sit in front of the TV and eat a takeaway, because you don't have to do much with it. 

This particular one was a surprise success. I picked up three duck legs for £3 in our local Co-op and used whatever else I had in the fridge / cupboard. It was so light and summery, even though potatoes and carrots aren't exactly renowned as summer food, and the addition of fresh basil from our Riverford veg box and grated parmesan gave it an Italian twist. 

Roast duck with summer vegetables

George learnt to quack, just for the occasion
Saute a large chopped onion with two cloves of  garlic, some cumin and paprika, a pinch of dried chili and a couple of rashers of chopped smoked bacon - and season. In the meantime, chop up some floury potatoes and carrots in to bite-sized chunks and parboil them - about 5 minutes or so.

Add a tin of butterbeans to the onion mixture, a vegetable stock cube (shhhh!), the potatoes and carrots and half a pint of the water you've just parboiled them in. I love black pepper so I add loads at this point. Leave to bubble away for about 10 minutes until some of the liquid has reduced. 

Season the duck legs generously, and render down the fat by dry-frying them for at least 15 minutes, mostly on the top side - there's a lot of fat on there which you don't particularly want to be chewing on. Also, you can pour it into a jar and save it in the fridge for your next roast potatoes. Yum.

Add a bag of fresh spinach and a big handful of chopped basil to the vegetables and pour into a roasting tin. Place the duck legs on top and sprinkle with finely grated parmesan and plenty of salt & pepper. Roast for 40 minutes on around 200c on the top shelf.

Take out of the oven and stand for 5 minutes before serving. Eat whilst enjoying the fact you've just saved yourself £25 and a disappointing takeaway experience. Oh, and that up until this point, no-one knew you'd been telling porkies on national TV...

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