Roast Duck with Cherry Sauce
After 40 years of recipe writing about other more elegant ways of serving duck I have now returned to this, the original recipe. If you think halfway to Chinese this is what it's like, moist flesh, lots of lovely very crispy bits and I still can't believe it's so simple.
This recipe is from Delia's Happy Christmas. Serves 4
Prepare the duck by wiping it as dry as possible with kitchen paper. Then, using a small skewer, prick the fatty bits of the skin, particularly between the legs and the breast. Now either place it on the roasting rack in the tin or make a rack yourself by crumpling the kitchen foil and placing it in the bottom of the roasting tin. Season with salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper, using quite a lot of salt, as this encourages crunchiness.
Now place the tin on a highish shelf of the pre-heated oven.
After 20 minutes turn the heat down to gas mark 4. 180ºC / 350ºF / gas mark 4, then basically that’s all you have to do is leave it alone for 2½ hours (or 30 minutes longer for a 2.7 kg bird). 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 – do this about 3 times (the fat is brilliant for roast potatoes, so don't throw it away).
To make the sauce simply combine the jam and wine and bring it up to a simmer then simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken it slightly.
When the cooking time is up the duck skin should sound crisp when it is tapped with a knife, if it's not pop it back in the oven for a bit longer, then when it's cooked allow the duck to rest for 5 minutes or so, then divide it into portions: all you need to do is cut the bird in half lengthways (i.e. along the length of the breast then either side of the backbone) with a sharp knife, then cut the halves into quarters leaving any escaped pieces of bone behind. (You may need some help with some kitchen scissors here.)
Serve with the sauce poured around so as not to lose the crispness of the skin and garnish with watercress.
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.