Feature by Sarah James:
Duck is a hugely underrated meat, and I can’t think why really. If you like beef, and you like chicken as well then duck is not exactly a mix of the two but trust me, you’d like it!
The meat is also very low in fat, so if you are watching the calories then removing the skin will actually give you a meat with less fat content than chicken! I didn’t know that!
The Family run and owned Gressingham Duck people sent us a hamper with a range of their products for us to try. The brief was to produce a special meal, not just a midweek keep you going type of dinner, but perhaps a meal with friends around, or a family Sunday lunch.
Include was one whole duck, a packet of duck legs, a packet of duck breasts, a pair of chopsticks, a meat thermometer for the perfect roast, and an Apron and recipe leaflet.
We’ve had duck many different ways, but for this challenge I decided to do a Chinese themed Sunday roast. It’s a little different from the usual meat and roast potatoes and veg Sunday lunch, but it’s good to explore new avenues from time to time.
The recipe involves making up a glaze or the skin of the chicken and a stuffing for the body cavity. The first half of the cooking period requires the duck to be covered in foil, this helps the stuffing steam the duck from inside, allowing all the aromas to penetrate into the meat. The second half of the cooking time has the foil removed, to allow the skin to brown and crisp up.
Once the duck is stuffed, the cavity is closed up with skewers, and the glaze poured over the whole duck.
After 45 minutes the foil is removed, and the duck returned to the oven. After another 45 minutes I inserted the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and read off the temperature.
Duck can be served rare, pink even according to taste. But for this meal I went with a fairly normal cooking time for medium meat. duck is surprisingly flexible with cooking temperatures, unlike some other meats, venison for example.
Gressingham Duck is a breed by the way! It was created in 1980 by crossing a wild duck and a Pekin duck. What resulted was full of flavour and is what you buy today from Gressingham. I served the duck with Hong Kong noodles and stir-fry vegetables. In theory they replace the carbohydrate of the potatoes, and the root vegetables of the traditional Sunday lunch.
How did it taste? Absolutely wonderful in my humble opinion. The duck helped a lot though, as it was very tender, and carved beautifully. The flavours of the stuffing and glaze subtly suffused the meat, and the side dishes made for a hearty, yet subtle Sunday lunch with a definite, yet not over the top Chinese theme to it.
Gressingham is a premium brand in my opinion. We have tried other duck with some success here and there, but Gressingham nails it in terms of a consistent, quality product, with great taste! And it’s British too!
Gressingham Duck is at http://www.gressinghamduck.co.uk/
- 1 Gressingham duck
- 70 g caster sugar
- 5 star anise seeds
- 1 large piece ginger sliced
- 1 bunch spring onions roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon malt syrup or maltose or replace with golden syrup as I did
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Wash the ducks inside and out with cold water, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Mix together the sugar, star anise, ginger, spring onions and a few good pinches of salt, then use this to fill the cavities. Close the cavities with skewers and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the maltose or golden syrup and 2 tbsp of the vinegar. Add the remaining vinegar to a jug of boiling water and pour over the ducks. (The boiling water opens up the pores, while the vinegar helps to strip some of the waxiness from the skin, so it will be more receptive to the maltose, which adds sweetness and a lacquered caramel colour.) Smear the maltose mixture over the ducks, then place them in a large plastic container and put in the fridge overnight ideally, uncovered.
- To cook, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7. (Fan ovens are particularly effective for roasting duck.) Put a little water in the bottom of a large roasting tin, place the duck on a rack over the top and cover with foil. Roast for about 45 mins. Take off the foil and roast for another 45 mins – the duck must be well done, there is no such thing as a rare Chinese roast duck! Take the duck out of the oven and let it rest for a good 20 mins before carving.