Thursday, 6 March 2014

Duck the difficult way

There are many ways of doing things. Such as the weekly shop. Basically there are two ways; out of which the easy and pragmatic is the method followed by my British Brother and his wifey the Mane Magician. They pack the car each Sunday, heading to the hypermarket at the outskirts of the city and following their carefully planned spreadsheet get all their shopping conveniently done under one roof.

Then there's the other one; preferred by our family's food blogger. My Saturdays are spent bouncing from one place to another with a shopping list I scribbled on Wednesday but lost it by Thursday already. Meat comes from the market in Hakaniemi, spices and shellfish from the Asian shop and herbs, beans and such from the Oriental Market. Then there's the wine shop and then at the end of the day the (often very aimless) journey takes me to the amusing world of the little speciality shops on Museokatu. Fresh mussels and crusty country bread from Anton & Anton, pastas from Hella & Herkku, dessert treats from Petri's Chocolate Room... It's not a method famed for saving time (or money for that matter) but does have a certain atmosphere. And those little shops are not going to stay in business without business!

And eventually, as I've finally managed to drag all my shopping bags back home, my hands gorilla-like stretched all the way to the ground the nerves will start recovering too as the wine pops open to signal the beginning of the actual cooking (oh yes, the legacy of the legendary Keith Floyd is ferociously kept alive in my kitchen!). The last Tour De Helsinki saw me score some duck, which roasted in the oven with herbs, garlic and Chinese fivespice. And with it there was polenta, infused with some rosemary and orange and a sauce made of cranberry gelée, cassia bark and red wine (yeah, occasionally there's some wine left for the cooking, too!). And as those wonderful scents floated out of my kitchen (and brand new oven!!! I finally have an oven!!!) I once again remembered why those loved ones in my life are worth every extra effort - it's just soooooo nice to get to spoil them!

Serves 2


2 duck legs
8 sprigs of thyme
8 sprigs of rosemary
6 large garlic cloves
1/2 tsp Chinese fivespice (a blend of ginger, anis, fennel, pepper and cinnamon bark)

Rub the salt and fivespice onto the duck. Peel garlic cloves and smash them gently with the back of the knife. Place them along with the herbs on the bottom of a roasting tin and the duck on top them. Roast at 190° for about an hour. Baste the duck a couple of times with the fat that seeps out of them. The amount of fat varies from duck to duck, so in case yours are very supermodel-like lean and fat-free, drizzle some oil on top.

After an hour or so drain any fat left on the bottom of the dish (if there's a lot, don't discard it: run it through a sieve, let cool and store in the fridge. Use it for frying  - it makes the best roasties!). Pour the sauce over the duck and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Then drain the juices, mercilessly smashing the herbs and garlic to make sure they give out every last drop of flavour there is (don't forget to scoop out the paste outside the bottom of the sieve into the sauce!) and serve with the duck and polenta.
The sauce:

3,5 dl red wine
3,5 tbsp good cranberry jelly
1star anise
1 (cassia) cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp grated orange zest

Measure the ingredients into a pot and bring to boil so the jelly dissolves.Cook for 10 minutes, remove the star anise and cinnamon bark and pour over the duck.

Orange and rosemary polenta:

2,5 dl finely ground polenta
5 dl water
(1 chicken stock cube) 
the juice of 1/2 orange
the finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 large tbsp of butter
(a couple of dl finely grated parmesan)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
salt, black pepper

Cook the polenta according to the instructions on the packet, which is roughly like this: Bring water to boil, dissolve the stock cube (if using), add orange zest and juice and whisking vigorously the polenta. Keep whisking to guarantee a lump-free consistency. If it starts thickening too much too soon, add more liquid. Then lower the temperature and continue cooking, covered for 20 minutes. Stir the mixture every now and then to make sure the bottom and the sides won't dry. After 20 minutes check whether it's done. If not, continue cooking for another 10 minutes until soft and creamy. Stir in butter (and parmesan if using) and rosemary. Season with salt (unless you're using parmesan) and pepper. Serve with duck and the sauce. The polenta can be made in advance (the day before, even), and spooned into a oiled dish lined with parchment too and chilled for a couple of hours. Then cut the polenta cake into bits of your preferred size and shape, brush with oil and grill. Tips for this method coming onto the blog soon!




No comments :

Post a Comment