Rillettes of Duck with Confit of Cranberries
This is one of my favourite starters: a terrine of tiny shreds of tender, succulent duck melded together like a pâté, then served with the dazzling depth of colour and sharpness of a confit of cranberries to counteract the richness. It's very simple to make and instead of serving it as a starter you could, as I have done, offer it as a lunch for three people with a green salad and some slightly chilled Beaujolais. Magnificent!
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection. Serves 6 as a starter
Begin by placing the duck joints on a rack in a shallow roasting tin, pierce them with a skewer, sprinkle salt on the skins then place them on a high shelf of the oven and leave them for 1 hour. Then remove them from the oven and drain off all the fat from the roasting tin into a bowl. The fat is excellent for cooking, so hang on to it.
Now place the duck joints in a solid flameproof casserole or saucepan, and sprinkle in the thyme, mace and garlic. Then use a pestle and mortar to crush the peppercorns and juniper berries coarsely, and add these as well. Next pour in the wine, bring everything up to simmering point, then turn the heat right down to the gentlest simmer possible and leave it like that for 2 hours. After that, pour off all the liquid into a bowl and reserve it, then have ready the terrine or loaf tin. Take a quarter of duck, place it on a board, and simply strip away the skin and bones, which will part very easily from the flesh. Then, using either two forks or just your hands, shred the pieces of duck flesh as finely as possible, and pack them into the terrine. When you have repeated this with the other duck quarters, press all the shreds of meat down very firmly into the terrine, then pour in all the cooking juices (there's no need to strain them).
Lastly, decorate the surface with the thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries and a few whole cranberries. Then as soon as it's cool put a lid on the terrine or cover with foil and place in the fridge until needed. You can make it well in advance as it will keep for about three days.
To make the confit, place the cranberries in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring the mixture up to a very gentle simmer, give it all a good stir and let it barely simmer without a lid for about an hour, stirring from time to time. What you end up with is a concentrated mass of glazed cranberries which tastes absolutely wonderful. Remove it from the heat, leave to cool then spoon it into a serving bowl and cover until needed.
Serve the terrine with thickish slices of toasted bread, garnish with sprigs of watercress and spoon some cranberry confit on to the plate, saving some to hand round separately.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
You will also need a 1½ pint (850 ml) terrine or loaf tin.