Crisp Roast Duck with Sour Cherries

This method of roasting whole duck at a high temperature is a kind of halfway house to the Chinese method. The essential thing is to have really crisp, crunchy skin, while at the same time keeping the flesh moist. Sour cherries give a sweet and sharp contrast to the richness of the duck. Remove the duck from its wrapping, wipe it with kitchen paper and leave on a plate in the fridge, to dry out for as long as possible.

Serves 4

Adapted from Delia’s Complete How to Cook

Crisp Roast Duck with Sour Cherries
 1 Fresh British Free Range Duck (approx 2kg), giblets removed
 salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper
For the sour cherry sauce
 250ml dry red wine
 80g pack dried sour cherries
 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
 200g morello cherry jam
To garnish:
 50g fresh watercress
 Preheat the oven to 230°C, gas mark 8.

You’ll need a roasting rack or some kitchen foil, and a medium roasting tin.


To cook the duck, use a small skewer to prick the fatty bits of the duck’s skin, then either place it on a roasting rack in the tin or make a rack yourself by crumpling the kitchen foil. Season the skin with crushed salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper, then pop it onto the centre shelf of the oven and roast it for 2 hours. During the cooking time, use an oven glove to protect your hands and drain off the fat from the corner of the tin a couple of times (the fat is brilliant for roast potatoes, so don’t throw it away).

Place all the ingredients for the sauce into a medium saucepan and let it bubble and reduce for about 15 minutes.

When the cooking time is up, the duck skin should sound crisp when tapped with a knife – if not pop it back in the oven for a bit longer. Allow the duck to rest for 20 minutes or so before carving. All you need to do is use a sharp knife to cut the bird in half lengthways (ie along the length of the breast and either side of the backbone). Then cut the halves into quarters (you may need some help with kitchen scissors here), leaving any escaped pieces of bone behind. Serve with some sauce poured around so as not to lose any of the crispness of the skin.

Garnish with watercress and serve the rest of the sauce separately.

Notes on ingredients
While the giblets aren’t needed, the duck liver is very good sautéed with a little garlic and thyme and served on toast. For larger ducks roast them for an extra 15–25 minutes. 

Nutrition 856kcals/47.3g carbohydrate/39.9g sugars/50.5g fat/18.1g saturated fat/1.2g salt per serving

Spoons: a useful point to remember is 2 teaspoons equates to 1 dessertspoon and 2 dessertspoons equates to 1 tablespoon.


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