Michele Cranston, author of A Simple Table, says there are a few foods in this world that I think are best left to the professionals, and roast duck is one of them.
Michele adds: “I know I shouldn’t say things like that, but a roast duck is all about that amazing burnished and crisp skin, which I think can be hard to achieve in a home kitchen. This recipe is a quick-fix, kitchen-friendly option that uses only the breast fillet, which is, after all, the most succulent part of the duck. Its flavourings of white pepper, five spice, ginger and plums take their cue from those wonderful Chinatown ducks, but unites them all in what is basically a very simple roast.”
6 boneless duck breast fillets, skin on
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) brandy
9 plums, halved and stones removed
4 cm (1 1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large leek, white part only, rinsed and julienned
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
1 Score the skin of the duck in a crisscross pattern. Put the brown sugar, sea salt, white pepper and five spice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Rub the flavoured salt into the duck skin.
2 Pour the brandy into a square storage container and add the duck breasts, skin side up. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
3 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Put the plums, ginger and leek in a roasting dish, drizzle with the olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
4 Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over low–medium heat. Remove the duck breasts from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Put the duck breasts in the pan, skin side down, and cook for about 10 minutes. You want to slowly crispen the skin but not burn it, so keep an eye on the temperature of the pan.
5 Remove the plums from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F). Put the duck breasts on top of the plums, skin side up. Pour over the reserved marinade and return the dish to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
6 Slice the duck breasts across the grain, spoon over the plums and leek and scatter with the coriander leaves. Serve with a side dish of steamed Asian greens and buttery brown rice.
Recipe and Image from A Simple Table by Michele Cranston, published by Murdoch Books