Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Potted Duck with Date, Fig and Apple Chutney

“18 hours, are you mad?” is the response everyone gave when they knew what I was cooking for the starter of my St. Valentines Dinner.  Maybe, just maybe.  Duck legs cooked for 18 hours, this was going to take some planning.

Duck was always going to feature in my menu, as it is my girlfriends favourite.  It took me a while to decide whether I would use duck in the starter or main and even considered having it for both.  But I when I looked through Heston Blumenthal at home, and came across this, my mind was made up.

Potted Duck with Date, Fig and Apple Chutney

This isn’t a dish that you can create quickly, it takes time, planning and patience.  For one, the duck legs take 18 hours to cook not including the marinating and smoking.  Then the potting and the setting.  Not a dish you can whip up in a few moments or at the last minute.

Spices to marinade the duck legs

I am not a fan of aniseed flavouring.  I blame it on a bad experience was I was younger drinking Pastis in France.  Always makes me a little bit queasy whenever the aroma hits you from opening a packet of star anise.  When I realised how many I needed for the marinade, I suddenly had doubts and that I had made the wrong choice.  Then when I took the spices from the over after roasting them, I was pretty certain I had made the wrong choice.  It was the morning after drinking Pastis in France all over again.  The spices of star anise, cinnamon, juniper berries, black peppercorns and bay leaves were then whizzed up and thyme leaves, orange zest and salt added.  This is then rubbed all over the duck legs and left for 24 hours.  I’m still not sure about the strong aroma of the star anise – too late to change now!

Getting ready to confit the duck

Once the duck has had 24 hours getting to know the flavours, you then need to rinse off the spices and pat dry.  The duck legs then go into a large ovenproof pot, along with plenty of delicious melted duck fat and a few sprigs of rosemary.  This is then placed into the oven at 75C, and the timer set for 18 hours.  It probably took me about an hour to get the pot in the right place in the oven for 75C.  I ended up placing the pot at the very bottom of the oven, with the oven set to the lowest temperature.  Handy tip – have an oven thermometer, you don’t want it to be at the wrong temperature for that long.

Confit Duck

It smells amazing, the aroma of duck in the house is sensational.  If they sold plug-in air fresheners with that scent, I would buy them. Leave to come to room temperature, then remove the duck legs, discard the rosemary sprigs and using a stick blender whizz up the remaining fat.

Smoking duck legs

Time to get smoking.  When planning this I went online to buy some wood chips and I hit a problem.  There were so many different varieties, I didn’t know which to get.  In the end I went for cherry wood, only as cherries and duck go well together.  I realised I didn’t have a wire rack that would fit into my stockpot, so I improvised with a foil dish punctured with holes.  I got the woodchips smoking, put foil over the top of the pot and put a lid on so nothing was escaping.  Took off the heat and left for 30 minutes.  And I never set the smoke alarm off, amazing!

Potted Duck

Once the duck has been engulfed in smoke, shred it with two forks and pack into sterilised kilner jars.  Then pour over a little of the melted fat, and put in the fridge to set.

Potted Duck

To go with the Potted Duck, I also made Date, Fig and Apple Chutney that was also in Heston Blumenthal at home.  This was the perfect accompaniment to go with the duck.  It was slightly sweet and sharp, and cut through the richness of the duck perfectly.  It was also fruity and spicy.  The flavours a little more complex and smoother than your normal chutney.  I also made some of my favourite bread, malted grain bread, which I chargrilled.  I then added some cornichons and caper berries to the side as well.

Despite the amount of time, and the number of processes, it is fairly easy to make.  Totally worth all the effort, as the flavour was amazing.  The subtle hint of smoke was intriguing.  The starter was a hit.  This I have been ordered, will be made again.

33 comments:

  1. A real labour of love! It looks so delicious! I find beech wood is the most useful for smoking - it's an excellent all-rounder - but your choice of cherry for this is superb.

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    1. Thanks Foodycat! As I have never smoked anything before this, I want to try other types of wood to use.

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  2. 24hrs to marinate and 18hrs to cook - I salute you.

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    1. I have to say, every minute was worth it!

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  3. May I ask if this was a Valentine's proposal meal? It all looks so wonderful and you have spent hours making this part of the meal - absolutely brilliant.

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    1. Hi Maggie - No sorry, there wasn't a proposal at this meal. Thank you very much for your kind comments.

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  4. I love the presentation. So elegant. Special occasions, require planning and if its going to take you hours to make a wonderful and romantc meal for your sweetheart, then so be it. It sounds from your post that it was a big hit.

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    1. Hello Shaheen, hope you well. The meal took about 3-4 weeks to plan everything, including the timings. Even had to take a day of work!! It was a wonderful meal, and she did enjoy it very much - phew!

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  5. James, this is a feast for the eyes! Looks like it was a lovely and very delicious meal with plenty of interesting flavor combinations. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Georgia :) The flavour combinations did go really well together.

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  6. Looks so professional. Definitely worth the effort. I love the detail of putting the pate in kilner jars. (Must remember that one!) I also had to laugh at your pastis experience . . . same for me only with pernod. Yuk!

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    1. The funny thing is, when I was in France and someone asked me if I wanted a pastis, I was hungry and thought they said pasty! If only it was, then I never would have had the experience.

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  7. I know what you mean about the aniseed smell which I also used to have a problem after throwing-up after one to many "Pernod and Blacks" which for some unknown reason we used to drink in our late teens. But I am slowly coming round to star anise and we all know that 5-spice works well with duck. I will definitely give this a go. I am especially impressed with the smoking bit! Something else I used to do a lot of in my late teens!

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    1. I think I am too starting to come round to star anise, but slowly, very slowly. The smoking part does give an interesting dimension.

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  8. I love how you've gone to so much effort for a romantic meal. That's dedication to food and love! It sounds delicious. You must have had the best smelling kitchen on valentines day.

    Thank you for the lovely comment you left on my blog a couple of weeks ago, sorry I'm late replying!

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    1. Thank you for you lovely comments Jo. I always think it's good to go to a special effort on special occasions. Oh, and don't be sorry - no need to be!

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  9. I came over from shaheen's blog! you're mad. I bet your date was properly impressed! maybe it's because I grew up with the spices of southeast asia, but I love the aniseedy smell of star anise, and it's a must in my braising soy sauce for chinese stews etc. the potted duck sounds amazing, but I'm also drawn to the date, fig and apple chutney, nice one!

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    1. Thanks for popping over Shu Han. I love Shaheen's blog!

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  10. Hi James,

    I want to have a go at smoking some food myself this year so will be experimenting with different wood chips myself!!

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    1. It really is good fun - and surprised I never set the smoke alarm off. I want to have a go at smoking salmon and sausages next!

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  11. Sounds fantastic. I love foods which take a lot of time to prepare but just by sitting or smoking, the flavors get really intense. Thanks for stopping by Foodness Gracious too :)
    Take care

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    1. I really enjoyed looked around Foodness Gracious!

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  12. James, this really sounds fantastic! It was worth the effort you put into it. I like intensely flavored food and I love potted duck. Wish I was there :-). Have a great day.Blessings...Mary

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    1. Thank you Mary :) It was really worth all the effort, and had fun creating and eating it! Take care.

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  13. As you say, not a dish you can whip up quickly but if you are going to put the effort in, what better time than Valentine's Day. It looks great. I like your blog and am following.

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    1. Thank you, I really appreciate you coming over and following. I am too following you - just seens your sausage rolls. One word - Immense!

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  14. Wow! These is so elegantly done & looks delicious! So sweet of you to go through so much effort for this romantic dinner! I'm amazed with all the wonderful ingredients. Simply divide! Thanks for dropping by blog & I do appreciate your kind words. Have a lovely day! :)

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    1. You are welcome Kit :). Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate it.

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  16. This looks absolutely amazing! I adore potted meats and pates. Duck is a favourite. Cut through that fat with those cornichons WOW!
    I won't attempt to make it myself but you have certainly got my mouth watering... x

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  17. What a lovely creation. It certainly was worth the time it took. I love to visit here and I never leave empty handed. I really enjoy the time I spend here and you manage to keep me coming back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  18. I made this recently. It's WAY too salty because the fat absorbs a lot of the salt from the curing process while cooking. Best to follow Gordon Ramsay's recipe for potted duck where he reserves some duck fat prior to cooking, and uses that at the end (instead of blending the cooked fat & juices as per Heston). Honestly, it was so salty I had to throw mine away & I normally like salty food!!

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  19. I came across this blog as I too am (in the middle of) attempting this for starter tomorrow, for Valentine's Day dinner. I'm aiming to follow it up with two other Heston recipes: the roasted leg of lamb in anchovy and rosemary, with pomme boulangere and honey-glazed carrots, then the soft-centre chocolate cake.

    Unfortunately, I couldn't get the duck legs so I ended up buying two whole mallard ducks, which I then butchered somewhat as I tried to remove the meat. I used the carcasses to make a nice rich stock.

    The rest of the meat is currently cooking away very slowly at 75 degrees for the next 8 hours, at which point I'm going to smoke it over wood chips. Looking forward to it.

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