Crisp Roast Duck with a Confit of Rhubarb and Ginger
I’m not very horticulturally minded but rhubarb is, I think, technically, a vegetable. But since the richness of duck is always complemented by something sweet and acidic, rhubarb is absolutely perfect.
You need to start this recipe the day before to make sure the ducks are as dry as possible before you cook them. So, prepare them by removing and discarding the wrapping and giblets. Then dry the ducks with a clean tea cloth and leave them uncovered on a plate in the fridge till needed.
To make the confit, all you do is place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, stir well, then bring everything up to simmering point. After that turn the heat down to its lowest and let it simmer gently, without a lid, for 45-50 minutes. Please don’t stir it at any stage as this will make the pieces of rhubarb mushy and you want it to retain some texture. It’s ready when it is covered with a dark, sticky glaze and there should be no more than a tablespoon of liquid left at the end.
When you are ready to cook the ducks, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C). Then, using a small skewer, prick all over the skin of each duck, particularly between the legs and the breast. Now, either place the ducks on the roasting rack or make a rack yourself for each one by crumpling some kitchen foil and placing it in the bottom of the roasting tin. Season the ducks generously with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper, using quite a lot of salt, as this encourages crunchiness. Now place the tin on the centre shelf of the pre-heated oven and roast the ducks for 1 hour and 50 minutes. During the cooking time, using an oven glove to protect your hands, remove the tin from the oven and drain the fat from the corner of the tin. You will need to do this 3 or 4 times. The leftover duck fat is wonderful for roast potatoes so don’t throw it away.
When the cooking time is up, allow the ducks to rest for 20 minutes or so, then carve (see How to carve a duck, below) and serve the duck with the confit and garnished with fresh watercress. A nice accompaniment would be Potatoes Boulangères with Rosemary and some of those imported fresh shelled peas.
_This recipe first appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine (March 2003)._