‘A recipe such as this is a true representation of my attitude to cooking and how I like my food’, says Valentine Warner. ‘Simple, delicious and colourful where possible.’ This recipe comes from his book ‘The Good Table’ published by Mitchell Beazley.
8 heaped tablespoons coarse rock salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries, lightly bashed
2 good handfuls of thyme sprigs
1 garlic bulb, skins left on the cloves, cloves roughly chopped
8 good handfuls of rosemary sprigs, broken
10 black peppercorns
6 good duck legs from free-range farmed ducks
5 × 350g jars duck or goose fat
150ml white burgundy, or other dry white wine
For the beetroot relish:
2 medium beetroots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, plus extra to serve
1–1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon flaked sea salt, or to taste
3–4 tablespoons olive oil
For the carrots and spring onions:
20 baby carrots, end whisker left on and leaves cut away but leaving a tiny green quiff
1 tablespoon duck fat from the pot
flaked sea salt and black pepper
16 really good spring onions, washed and trimmed
1. In a large bowl, throw in the salt and all the aromatics (the juniper berries, thyme, garlic, rosemary and peppercorns). Toss the duck legs in the mixture, really pushing the salt into them. Take a few of the stems that haven’t stuck to the duck, some berries, some peppercorns and excess salt in the bowl, and scatter it into the bottom of a lidded container large enough to take all the duck legs. Put the first three duck legs in the bottom, skin-side up. Scatter over more of the bits and bobs left in the bottom of the bowl on to the duck legs, before placing on the next three duck legs on top. Tip any bits left in the bowl over the top. Put on a lid and wrap the whole box in cling film. This is so that when you turn it upside down, you do not cover your fridge in salty juice. Leave the duck legs for 12 hours in the fridge, turning the box upside down halfway through.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the duck or goose fat. Take each duck leg, brush off any visible salt with your hand and pop it into the pan of fat. Repeat with all the legs. Pick out some berries, peppercorns, garlic, rosemary and thyme, and drop these into the fat as well, taking care not to add residual salt to the duck fat. Add the wine. Cut out a cartouche (a circle of baking paper) that fits neatly into the pan and place over the duck legs. Put a robust kitchen plate on top; this will keep the duck under the oil. Bring the fat up to a gentle, bubbling simmer (plup, plup, plup) and cook like this on the stove-top for 2½–3 hours. You will know when the duck is ready by testing it with a fork; the meat should come away easily from the bone with only the slightest prompting, but should not fall off without.
3. While the duck cooks, boil the beetroots whole with the skins on. They want to be very tender and will cook in about 1–1¼ hours in a pan with the lid on. Peel off the skins, wearing rubber gloves, and grate them coarsely, while hot, into a bowl. Stir in the Dijon mustard, add the vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste and follow with enough oil to get a consistency that is soft and glossy. By doing this when the beetroot is warm, the flavours really come into their own. Leave to one side.
4. Poach the carrots in a small saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain, reserving the carrot water. Scatter the carrots on the bottom of a large roasting tray, mix them with the duck fat and season. Nestle the duck legs among the carrots. It doesn’t matter if some of the carrots sit under the legs. Preheat the oven to 200C fan / 220C/Gas 7 half an hour before you plan to use the duck legs. Roast the duck legs for 30 minutes, or until the skin is very crispy and the carrots have taken on colour. About 5 minutes before serving, poach the spring onions in the simmering carrot water for 2 minutes.
5. To assemble the dish, put the carrots and duck legs on a large platter and intersperse with the spring onions. Eat accompanied with the beetroot relish, some Dijon mustard and a bottle of excellent wine.
This recipe is taken from The Good Table by Valentine Warner (Mitchell Beazley).[amazon_link asins=’1845335406,1845335422,1845334507,1845334876′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwgreatfooie-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’e1b3213f-4c8e-11e8-a0ca-13df282d3893′]