Duck and Silverbeet Parcels

Ördek Sarma


When I came to Sydney I found duck was a popular meat with Australians, and I started serving this dish in winter. It is a modern variation of a Black Sea dish, where silverbeet is usually wrapped around lamb mince and rice. There they’d never use duck, which is a meat cooked at home by the wives of hunters, or freekeh, which is from the southeast. My justification for the change is that spit-roasted duck was served in Istanbul at the circumcision ceremony for the son of Sultan Mehmet II, in 1457. That’s the rule: when challenged, quote the Ottomans.


  • 4 duck legs
  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) chicken stock
  • 190 g ( oz/1 cup) freekeh
  • 2 tablespoons dried barberries (or cranberries)
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pimento
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons capsicum (pepper) paste
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste (to make your own)
  • 10 silverbeet (Swiss chard) leaves


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 250 g (9 oz/1 cup) plain yoğurt


Put the duck legs and chicken stock in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Remove the legs from the pan and place on a board to cool slightly. When the legs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat. Put the skin, sinews and bones back in the pan and simmer, with the lid off, for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the freekeh in a bowl and cover with 375 ml (13 fl oz/ cups) of warm strained stock. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Put the barberries in a bowl. Cover with warm water and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Halve the capsicum, remove the stalk and seeds, and finely chop. Finely chop the onion and the garlic.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the flaked almonds and onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the duck pieces and fry for 2 minutes. Add the sherry, cinnamon, pimento, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high for 3 minutes to cook out the alcohol.

Put the capsicum and tomato pastes in a bowl, add 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the warm chicken stock and stir to combine. Add the mixture to the duck and stir. Add the strained freekeh and capsicum to the duck mixture, and stir. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Strain the barberries and stir into the duck and freekeh stuffing. Leave to cool, covered, for 10 minutes.

Wash the silverbeet leaves under cold running water. Put the silverbeet in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 2 minutes, then plunge in iced water for 1 minute to refresh. Remove the stalks. If the leaves are large, cut them in half (so you can make two parcels). You should have at least ten leaf pieces. Put the two largest leaves aside (to line the bottom of the cooking pot). Place 3 tablespoons of the freekeh and duck mixture across each leaf, about 4 cm ( in) from the bottom. Fold in the edges around the stuffing and tightly roll the leaf up. Repeat to make eight parcels.

Cover the bottom of a saucepan with the two reserved leaves. Place the eight parcels on the leaves. Pour in the chicken stock to almost cover the parcels. Weigh the parcels down with a plate. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Crush the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and paprika. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the yoğurt.

Place a quarter of the yoğurt sauce on each plate. Scoop out the parcels with a slotted spoon then add two to each plate and serve.