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Crisp Roast Duck with a Confit of Sour Cherries

This is it – the best method of roasting duck I've found to date, and of all the lovely sauces, this one – made with dried sour cherries – is the loveliest. It's important to remember, however, that the duck should be as dry as possible, so buy it 24 hours in advance, remove and discard the wrapping and giblets, dry it in a clean tea cloth and leave it uncovered on a plate in the fridge till needed.

 
 
 Crisp Roast Duck with a Confit of Sour Cherries

  Serves 4

Ingredients
 1 x 4 lb (1.8 kg) Gressingham duck
 fresh watercress, to garnish
 coarse sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the confit of sour cherries:
 3 oz (75 g) dried sour cherries
 7 fl oz (200 ml) dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, for example)
 1 oz (25 g) golden granulated sugar
 1 tablespoon good-quality red wine vinegar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C).
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Equipment

You will also need a roasting rack or some kitchen foil, and a roasting tin measuring 9 x 11 inches (23 x 28 cm), 2 inches (5 cm) deep.

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two

Method

You need to start this recipe the day before you want to serve it by first soaking the cherries for the confit in the red wine overnight.

The next day, prepare the duck by wiping it as dry as possible with kitchen paper. Now, using a small skewer, prick the fatty bits of the duck's skin, particularly between the legs and the breast. Now either place the duck 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 coarse 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 duck 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 – do this about 3 times (the fat is brilliant for roast potatoes, so don't throw it away).

Meanwhile, to make the confit, place the soaked cherries and wine in a saucepan, along with the sugar and wine vinegar. Bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer, give it all a good stir and let it barely simmer, without a lid, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring from time to time. What will happen is that the wine will slowly reduce so there's only about 3 tablespoons of free liquid left.

When the cooking time is up, allow the duck to rest for 20 minutes or so, then carve and serve garnished with the fresh watercress, with the sour-cherry confit poured over each portion and the rest handed round separately in a jug.

 

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