Steamed and Crisp-Fried Duck with Spiced Winter Vegetables

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Duck production in Britain centred on the Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury, after which the best known breed is named, although most duck we see in the shops come now from Norfolk and Lincolnshire. The Aylesbury duck is descended from the Chinese Pekin duck, a strain that has been bred for the table for around 2000 years. It is rich and fatty with a small amount of moist, tender flesh and a thick skin that turns sweet and crisp when cooked. To my mind this superb duck is the best type available, however it is not the only one on offer. Some varieties, like the French Barbary duck, need to be tackled in a completely different way, more like mallard or even steak. Ditto new British breeds like Gressingham or Lunesdale which are closer to the wild species.

Ingredients

  • 2 × 2.5kg (5lb 10oz) ducks
  • 400g (14 oz/ cups) carrots
  • 400g (14 oz/ cups) celeriac (celery root)
  • 400g (14oz/ cups) parsnip
  • 400g (14 oz/ cups) swede (rutabaga)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • sunflower oil, for frying
  • salt and pepper

Method

Steam the whole ducks for 1½ hours. Meanwhile, peel the root vegetables and cut them into 2cm (¾in) dice.

Fry the vegetables in the olive oil until they colour. Add the spices and stir for a few moments. Add enough water to cover, then boil until the vegetables are cooked and the liquid has evaporated. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

When the ducks have finished steaming, remove the legs and take the breasts off the bone. If they cool down, then put the duck pieces back in the steamer for a few minutes.

Heat a frying pan with sunflower oil to a depth of 1 cm (½in). Fry the duck pieces one at a time, on the skin side only. When crisp, lay them on mounds of the spiced root vegetables.